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Xbox LIVE for Windows

PC gamers have been playing online matches and downloading extra content long before Xbox LIVE came around.But while Xbox LIVE offers these features under a single, tidy service, doing so on a PC can sometimes be a slightly messier affair.Microsoft is looking to clean things up - and make a bit of money, we imagine - when it debuts its Games for Windows - LIVE service on May 8 of this year for the new Vista operating system.

Perhaps thebiggest draw for the new service will be the unification it offers.Games for Windows - LIVEwill allow PC gamers toplay cross-platform titlesagainst 360 users, beginning with Halo 2, Shadowrun and UNO.New and existingcustomers will be able to use the same gamertag and friends list on either platform, while Achievement Pointsunlockedon both systems go tothe same overall score.

If you're already paying for an Xbox LIVE Gold account, worry not - you'll be able to use the PC service at no extra cost. As for PC users, expect to pay the same rate Xbox users are paying, whether that's $49.95(US)for a yearly account or simply pocket lint for the free Silver service. But just like Xbox gamers, the PC crowd willneed to spring for the Gold package to experience the luxury of some twelve year old with a voice-enabled headset calling you dirty words.

March 14, 2007