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Microsoft big on XP for gamers

San Francisco event designed to put Windows gaming on the map. Company continues with message it introduced last March.


Hammering home a message it hopes, nay, intends to communicate to gamers, Microsoft yesterday held a cozy event in San Francisco where it demonstrated to members of the gaming press just how committed it was to backing up its 2-year-old OS, Windows XP, as a reliable platform for Windows-based developers and gamers.

Microsoft execs Chris Jones, Dean Lester, and Susan Kittleson made brief but concise presentations reiterating a message Microsoft had introduced earlier in the year: that the giant software developer was intent on "igniting gamer enthusiasm" through a number of initiatives, which started with the XP launch in 2001 and is continuing on through to the launch of its new OS, currently known as Longhorn (and expected to launch in late 2005 or 2006).

Of note in last night's presentation was news of the November 10 launch of the Game Advisor, an online utility both core and casual gamers can use to locate a game and then to see if the computer used for the Game Advisor search is compatible with it. While this may be no better than looking on the game's packaging for similar information, the ease of checking these specs online and then having the computer do the work of assessing the system seems like a win-win situation for all users--especially those who enjoy gaming but whose tech skills may be limited.

The new site will also index PC games by age range and genre, encouraging users to locate and research the game of their choice from home.

Lester, general manager of Microsoft's Windows Graphics and Gaming Technologies group said many of his more than 200 reports were working directly on the "gaming experience' and shared the common goal of supporting and perfecting an OS he said was custom-made for gaming.

While Lester had spoken earlier this year on Microsoft's commitment to Windows as a gaming platform, yesterday's presentation was designed not only to drive home the point that XP was designed with the core gamer in mind but also the casual gaming audience. The Microsoft goal: a plug-and-play solution that mimics what is possible in the console camp.

The company didn’t waste time in backing up its claims. After the execs completed their informal presentations, John Smedley, president of Sony Online Entertainment, with the help of SOE community manager Steve Danuser, walked attendees through a demo of EverQuest II, a title currently bound for the retail channel sometime next year.

While the message last night was broad in nature, it should address concerns of PC gamers who fear that support for Windows gaming is waning. Even Jones admitted that Microsoft "hasn't done a great job of getting people into Windows gaming."

Jones and his Microsoft colleagues are obviously throwing more muscle behind XP, and promise more news is on the way.

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