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PC Games (Games) Windows Games

Gaming On Windows 7 554

Jason Wilson writes "Windows 7 comes out Oct. 22, and many gamers are wondering whether it will be a boon for gaming, as Microsoft promised Vista would, or a disappointment (like Vista was at its launch). Former ExtremeTech editor Jason Cross, who's covered games and tech for 13 years, discusses the pluses and minuses of Windows 7 for gamers — how it differs from Vista, if it'll run older games, and the benefits of 64-bit computing. 'Windows 7 basically takes the Vista codebase and rewrites, refines, optimizes, and overhauls most of the internal stuff without making dramatic changes to the driver stacks that Vista did over WinXP. The changes to the fundamental driver models are small and mostly serve to improve performance. Plus, the hardware makers — especially the graphics guys — are on top of the changes this time around. Nvidia and ATI have been shipping quite good Win7 graphics drivers for months now.'"
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Gaming On Windows 7

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  • by Tukz ( 664339 ) on Friday July 24, 2009 @04:57AM (#28804759) Journal

    I have Windows 7 RC installed, and I was very surprised to see every game I had installed, still worked flawlessly.
    Even Starcraft, which is very aged game, worked just fine.

    At the same time, I have only found 1 application that didn't work, and I couldn't get to work even with XP compat, admin rights or any other tweak.
    So that's quite good imo.

    • by Tukz ( 664339 ) on Friday July 24, 2009 @05:01AM (#28804777) Journal

      Why the hell is that modded as "Troll"?!

      • by abigsmurf ( 919188 ) on Friday July 24, 2009 @05:06AM (#28804799)
        Don't you know, Troll actually means "I disagree". Although in this case it likely means "lalala I can't hear you"
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by relguj9 ( 1313593 )

        Why the hell is that modded as "Troll"?!

        Anything said about Windows that doesn't involve trashing it is oftentimes met with staunch resistance on the Slashdot forums.

        Like people mod the article as astroturfing because it's a positive review of Windows 7... the Slashdot forums have moderate to heavy astroturfing in favor of Linux.

        People who post here are usually very technologically inclined and love the openness, freedom and power of Linux, and I agree with them Linux is pretty awesome. But I differ from a lot of them in believing that Win

    • by Kokuyo ( 549451 )

      The only things that didn't work for me are really old DOS games (but I had trouble with them in XP too) and such things as those 4kb landscape thingies that were discussed on Slashdot a few days ago.

      So far, I've really had nothing to complain about, the new UI aside. I was pretty pissed that there was no classic theme. Now I've gotten used to it and I must say, although I certainly won't pay what Microsoft is asking, this is the first MS OS that I WOULD pay for if the price was right.

      • by Jurily ( 900488 ) <jurily@gmail.COLAcom minus caffeine> on Friday July 24, 2009 @05:27AM (#28804885)

        So far, I've really had nothing to complain about, the new UI aside. I was pretty pissed that there was no classic theme.

        I'm still pissed about Vista not having the XP style. That one was much nicer.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 24, 2009 @08:42AM (#28805705)

          So far, I've really had nothing to complain about, the new UI aside. I was pretty pissed that there was no classic theme.

          I'm still pissed about Vista not having the XP style. That one was much nicer.

          I miss the Windows 2000 style!!! I always turned XP to Win2K style, and got a nice performance boost because of it. I also HATE, absolutely HATE not being able to see all my programs / start menu by default. I do NOT want Windows to organize it, I want to organize it myself.

          File searching still sucks, XP/2K did this way better, and faster, ironically, than the indexed searches in Vista/Win7.

          The only thing I do like is the ability to search for a start menu item (which, sadly I need to do now... ) and find it quickly. But the 'smart menu' system makes me 'forget' about programs since they get hidden. Aggravating!

          I sent in several bugfix/feature requests about this during the beta... everyone I know at work (IT Dept) hates the vista file browser and searching, we are always VM'ing or RDP'ing to XP boxes just to execute searches. How sad is that? I can honestly say I don't mind that stupid search dog anymore... lol. well.. ok, I just hate him less than vista/win7 file browser and searching.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Haiyadragon ( 770036 )
        Have you tried DOSBox (http://www.dosbox.com/ [dosbox.com])? It works quite well.
        • by Kokuyo ( 549451 )

          I'm aware of that possibility. I did try to comment on the OS itself, though. It wouldn't be useful to comment on 7's ability to mount ext4 after installing special third-party drivers, after all, so I limited it to its native capabilities.

      • Old dos games should definitely only be tried in something like dosbox, or scummvm (for those old adventure games) even in much earlier OS's.

      • by cyanid3 ( 998026 ) on Friday July 24, 2009 @08:56AM (#28805791) Homepage

        There is a classic theme, what are you talking about? Desktop Personalization > Basic and High Contrast Themes > Windows Classic.

    • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

      Creative cards working yet? I'd heard vista lacked any decent hardware sound support, effectivelly rendering headphone gaming with X-fi cards impossible.

      Also I don't buy their statistics. According to the latest steam hardware survey data released (June 2007) 60% of all surveyed systems were using winXP still, even a year after win7's launch unless it manages to actually outperform XP I don't see that changing anytime soon.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by smash ( 1351 )
        I've been running Vista 64 on an X-fi since 2007. I have zero issues. Ditto since I've upgraded to the RC.
      • Steam reported my Windows 7 Beta system as Windows XP for a long time.
        • I wonder if anyone at MS has considered altering XP just enough to make it DX10/11 compatible and 64bit and then calling it a new operating system.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Jurily ( 900488 )

      Even Starcraft, which is very aged game, worked just fine.

      The latest patch is dated Jan 22, 2009. I don't think that makes it "aged".

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Don't get your panties in a bunch, there's a difference between aged and unmaintained... they aren't synonyms. At 11 years old, Starcraft is aged. It is also (apparently) maintained.
    • by smash ( 1351 )
      Same here. Well, with a small caveat. A couple of games that worked on vista do not work on 7 RC. namely (from my collection) : Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines, and Neverwinter Nights 2.

      NWN2 barfs with a DirectX error (some missing string), No idea why VTMB dies (black screen, can only kill with ctrl+alt+del). Apparently the NWN2 problem is fixed in a build more recent than 7100, not sure about vampire.

      But on the whole, if it works on Vista (and really, the jump from 98 to XP broke HEAPS more gam

      • NWN2 barfs with a DirectX error (some missing string), No idea why VTMB dies (black screen, can only kill with ctrl+alt+del). Apparently the NWN2 problem is fixed in a build more recent than 7100, not sure about vampire.

        There is a fix on the NWN forums that works. It involves changing a DirectX file for an older version. Seems there is something different that thh RC does that NWN 2 doesn't like. Works fine now though, and the release version will no doubt be updated to use the ordinary DX setup. Obsidian just decided to not to waste time supporting what is essentially a beta OS, and are waiting for the actual release.

    • Indeed, I'm loathed to admit it, but Windows 7 is great for gaming.

      Out of the box, my graphics card, sounds card, motherboard controllers, etc were found by the OS, my CPU wasn't... but the "find drivers online" stuff worked. The graphics drivers worked flawlessly without the actual drivers being downloaded from Nvidia, I did grab them though for the control panel.

      TF2 runs great, apart from the odd glitch (though I suspect that's an issue with Steam/HL2 rather than 7). Other games run smooth, so it seems li

    • Same here. I dusted off my old gaming computer from 2006 to play games and try out this new-fangled "Windows" thing. All games work perfectly. Currently I have Spore, L4D, GTA: SA, the usual Steam/Valve suspects (hl1 and hl2 engines) and Bioshock.
      This is the first Windows I'd rather pay for than pirate.

    • It would be interesting to see how these games run on a bunch of different peoples computers. Just as Linux works great for some people and for others it has a huge array of annoying glitches. I personally never hated Vista that much and it actually ran quite well on a MacBook Pro. Also when Vista was first released we have a lot of what we are having now a bunch of mostly good reviews of the system. Lets wait and see what real life will bring. When it is finally tested in eMachienes and Compaqs and

  • by thona ( 556334 ) on Friday July 24, 2009 @05:06AM (#28804797) Homepage
    First, it is August 6th/7th for some of us. Only people without MSDN etc. wait till October ;) Second, "it just works". Pretty well acutally ;) I like it a lot more than Vista. Using RC1 right now in the important systems already ;)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 24, 2009 @05:17AM (#28804849)

    I installed the Windows 7 RC pretty much straight off, I didn't jump on the Vista bandwagon, I stuck with XP for a few reasons.

    1) Cost
    2) Gaming Performance
    3) I had no need for DX10

    Anyways, What I found in 7 was that gaming performance in about 70-80% of my games had improved, even on very early drivers.

    Crysis was up by on average 30fps
    Source games had an improvement of about 15fps
    Unreal Engine games had little improvement, about 2-3fps

    So far I'm very impressed with 7.

  • DX9 vs DX10 / 11 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Krneki ( 1192201 )
    Until you have the hardware to run DX10 in full details (i7 CPU) what is the point in having a DX10 OS?

    I still have problems with my overclocked dual core at 3.3Ghz to run all the DX9 games at full details at 60FPS.

    And XP is usually faster for DX9 games then Vista or Win7 is.

    So, until I can get an overclocked i7 at 4.0Ghz I'll stick to DX9 and WinXP. Since why overclock to gain FPS and lose them with Vista / Win7?

    This is for games, so please M$ lovers don't bash me. And no I don't play games below 50FPS, th
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by smash ( 1351 )
      DX10 isn't the only reason to upgrade. SMP performance and general responsiveness is massively improved in 7 due to a better scheduler.

      And XP is usually faster for DX9 games then Vista or Win7 is.

      Source? Doesn't match my experience, other people are reporting significant *improvements* in frame-rate when comparing XP and 7.

    • by catxk ( 1086945 )

      Just a heads up: the graphic card might have something to do with performance in 3D games. Just a heads up.

    • by Runaway1956 ( 1322357 ) on Friday July 24, 2009 @05:56AM (#28804983) Homepage Journal

      Uhhhhmmmm, why do you need a super duper CPU to run DX10? That is the job of the GPU. Trying to improve your video with a CPU upgrade is a lost cause. If you're using onboard video that uses shared system memory, you never see video performance.

      http://www.microsoft.com/games/en-US/AboutGFW/Pages/DirectX10-a.aspx [microsoft.com]

      Simply put, DirectX is a Windows technology that enables higher performance in graphics and sound when you're playing games or watching video on your PC.

      At the core of DirectX are its application programming interfaces, or APIs. The APIs act as a kind of bridge for the hardware and the software to "talk" to each other. The DirectX APIs gives multimedia applications access to the advanced features of high-performance hardware such as three-dimensional (3-D) graphics acceleration chips and sound cards. They control low-level functions, including two-dimensional (2-D) graphics acceleration; support for input devices such as joysticks, keyboards, and mice; and control of sound mixing and sound output.

      Because of DirectX, what you experience with your computer is better 3-D graphics and immersive music and audio effects.

      • by ShooterNeo ( 555040 ) on Friday July 24, 2009 @06:10AM (#28805049)
        Actually, the OP is correct. Modern games with a recent graphics card are bottlenecked by the CPU. Specifically, GTA 4 needs a monstrously powerful CPU in order for the engine to draw the city at a decent framerate. This is probably a result of poor programming by the folks that ported the game, but in any case you need a beefy CPU to enjoy GTA4.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by jpmorgan ( 517966 )
          Maybe the OP is right in regards to GTA4 specifically, but the OP in general is very very wrong. Personally though, I would be very surprised if the DX10 engine requires a heftier CPU than the DX9; that would indicate very poor programming on the part of Rockstar. DirectX 10 has even less dependency on CPU performance than DX9. It's an API to queue and dispatch commands to GPUs. In fact, it should be less CPU demanding than DX9, since it abandons the fixed-function pipeline, maps more directly to the underl
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      You don't need DX10 hardware to run windows 7, nor do you need DX10 to run aero (will work on DX9 hardware, though I've not tried anything lower than that). Try putting Windows7 on your 3.3Ghz machine, and I think you'll be pleasantly surprised....
      • by Krneki ( 1192201 )
        Win7 is still not out and I don't waste time with beta OS.

        I'll try it when SP1 comes out. Hopefully by I'll have a better CPU.
  • by physburn ( 1095481 ) on Friday July 24, 2009 @05:33AM (#28804911) Homepage Journal
    Don't Windows games almost entirely run upon the DirectX layer, so it doesn't much matter what the window version is under that. Just as long as it stable and Windows 7 promises to be much stabler, at least thats what microsoft say. Knowing microsoft it would probably take until the service release before it actually stable.


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    • by smash ( 1351 ) on Friday July 24, 2009 @05:39AM (#28804931) Homepage Journal
      DX is only part of the platform. DX doesn't cover stuff like file access, memory management, processor scheduling, etc...
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      DirectX versions don't perfect compatibility so it is not as simple as that. The reason versions of DirectX make incompatible changes due to different uses of the API and also different hardware (DirectX is closer to the hardware than OpenGL). For example, nearly all recent hardware have programmable pixel and vertex shaders and this is reflected in DirectX9, but DirectX 10 has support for geometry shaders. A program written to use these newer features cannot be used on systems running older versions of Dir
  • As an IT prof now for many years I felt it was my obligation to be one of the first on Vista. To stay on top of the current trends.

    Well needless to say. Vista was an absolutely miserable failure on every front. It was advertised as being able to run on machines it point blank couldn't. I couldn't run it on top end XP machines because the drivers simply didn't exist. The user experience was an absolute nightmare, I still have nightmares with UAC pop-ups in them. The x64 version was worse than the 32 b

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Get over yourself? It's an OS, not a relationship!
      What's wrong with trying it out, and if you don't like it, installing another? You might like it, you know? You make it sound like there's no turning back.
      Installing an OS you don't like and sticking with it, getting nightmares and "3rd degree burns"? Shame on you.

    • by kamatsu ( 969795 ) on Friday July 24, 2009 @09:49AM (#28806355)

      I think you mean "Fool me once.. shame.. shame on you, Fool me.. you can't get fooled again!"

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by flibuste ( 523578 )

      I am an IT professional, and what people here would consider a "Windows Hater".

      It is true, I hate Vista. I hate it, you hate it, everyone hates it.

      In all honesty, Windows 7 is really a big step forward. You should try it before dumping it just because you had a miserable experience with Vista. Hands-on experience is much better than what you may "believe". Beliefs have no room in the IT world if you really want to be 'professional'. Actually, beliefs is what make people not move forward with technology. It'

  • So one cannot play BF 2 or 2142 for more than a few seconds before being booted. Hopefully with the RTM out they'll update it now.

  • Plus, the hardware makers -- especially the graphics guys -- are on top of the changes this time around.

    Translation: as opposed to last time, when our beloved DRM overlords were firmly in control.

  • by RaigetheFury ( 1000827 ) on Friday July 24, 2009 @07:24AM (#28805295)

    I'm an avid gamer... and my tastes are all over the place. The only issue I've had in ANY game in the following list was with World of Warcraft, and only during the loading of your character after the character selection screen. If in windowed mode, you go do something else then come back... it will crash wow. Otherwise, once it loads completely it's fine. (10-15second window).

    World of Warcraft
    Left 4 Dead
    Half Life 2 (And all the mods: Zombie Panic, Team Fortress 2, Action Halflife 2... etc)
    Quake 3
    Doom 3
    NeverWinter Nights (all expansions)
    NeverWinter Nights 2
    Battlefield 2
    etc etc etc

    Not a single error. Not a single problem with Windows 7. The only thing I can wonder about is the resources needed. I run a beef machine... GTX 275, quad core proc, 4gb ram... while not an elite gaming rig... it's pretty nice. I experience no lag, no latency... in any game, at least not due to what I would deem as a Windows 7 issue. The effects are not noticeable.

    XP, while great, loads in less time, but seemed to crash more frequently with newer games. Most of the NVIDIA drivers I've used have been great.

    The only complain I have about Windows 7 is how it buggers out my network when I do a fresh boot or a restart. I have to disable the network card and reenable it (5 second process) and everything is fine. Repeated motherboard driver updates and network card updates have had no change. Oddly enough... on a fresh install of Windows 7 Beta... it doesn't do this. Only after about a month. Could be hardware on my side but /shrug.

  • security risk? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rpillala ( 583965 ) on Friday July 24, 2009 @09:23AM (#28806031)

    This bit gave me the worst gut reaction from the article:

    Bitmob: At this point, can you recommend Windows 7 as a gaming platform?

    JC: I'd almost insist on it. Windows XP is old enough that running it is sort of a security risk

    ... a security risk? That really sounds to me like the "Fear" in FUD. Or is there something about security I'm overlooking due to anti-MS bias, of which I am sometimes guilty?

  • I could have written that article and saved you all some trouble.

    Instead I'll debunk some of his bullshit.]

    Jason Cross knows his tech.


    And actually, the whole "branding the box with Games for Windows" thing has been pretty decent.

    First, no game as benefited from this branding. If anything it has made the 6 games it has much harder to play. Your saves are tied to your live account. Any DLC you want to get is also deadlocked into the G4W live marketplace. Can't get them anywhere else. Why is this bad? If you're like me, the G4W Live client seems to be an afterthought. I bought my add-ons for Fallout 3 and then coudldn't download them due to some cryptic error message. It took no fewer than 13 calls to Microsoft before I got the right department and even then they had no clue what the G4W Live client was. The calls couldn't resolve the issue, only time did. I would label G4W Live as an abysmal failure that only hinders the title rather than boosting it.

    It's just not the amazing total revolution in computing the marketing would have you believe.

    If you're coming from XP as most gamers are, it is. The most annoying thing about it from a gamer's point of view is the handling of the audio system. Other than that, it's quite amazing. Speed is much better than XP. The ability to pop in an 8GB thumb drive and create a readyboost cache is quite amazing also. Do games run better or faster? No, but the OS does and that in-turn makes the games experience better.

    You really shouldn't expect much of a change from Vista to Windows 7 in terms of old game compatibility.

    Windows 7 has compatibility options for every MS OS from windows 95 through windows vista sp2. You probably won't need to use compatibility much if ever though. Some really old games run great in the windows 7 vdm. As for some more recent games, Arma 2 has severe performance issues with windows 7.

    You're not stuck with that 2GB-maximum 32-bit [memory limit].

    Ugh, fact checking? 32-bit has a 4GB memory limit, not 2GB. With your video ram, it sometimes came out to be 3GB or a little more.

    I'd almost insist on it. Windows XP is old enough that running it is sort of a security risk, and you can't run DX10 or DX11.

    Windows XP is less of a security risk than Windows 7 at this point. The bugs are mostly ironed out and the security suites all run on XP natively. Windows 7 still hasn't undergone much scrutiny for bugs and most security suites don't run properly on the OS. It's more of a real security risk than XP at this point.

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