Vista's shipping out

New Windows operating system goes on sale worldwide after years of delays; allows PC gamers to connect to Xbox Live.

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Microsoft's latest operating system, Windows Vista, has launched worldwide today. The new OS brings with it DirectX 10, a new graphics application programming process, which claims to provide better performance for some effects--including rippling water, smoke, and lightning.

First-person shooter Crysis, developed by Crytek--the German team that also worked on Far Cry--will be one of the first games to use DirectX 10. Other titles include Flight Simulator X and Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures.

Other gaming-related bonuses that Microsoft is touting include the built-in game explorer start menu feature, which brings together games and saved game data. It also allows parents to apply parental controls, choosing from a variety of games rating systems, including the ESRB, CERO, and PEGI.

Another feature of the new OS will be cross-platform functionality, meaning that gamers can use their Xbox 360 controllers with their PCs to play Vista games and play online games across PC and 360 platforms. Vista users will also be able to connect to Xbox Live.

There will also be a new logo for "Games for Windows" on game packaging. To qualify, games must meet a set of guidelines--including easy install; compatibility with the Xbox 360 controller; Vista compatibility; and support for widescreen resolution, multicore, and multithreading.

However, criticism for Vista's gaming features has already emerged, with some concerns raised over how the tighter security controls will impact independent game manufacturers who want to make a Vista game. Users who wish to download a game from the Internet will receive a series of warning pop-ups and require an administrator's password to do the installation. Some companies have expressed worries that this will put consumers off from downloading casual games from their sites.

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