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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 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 Jurily ( 900488 ) <jurily&gmail,com> 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 smash ( 1351 ) on Friday July 24, 2009 @05:32AM (#28804907) Homepage Journal
    It is noticeably faster than Vista. Its SMP support and responsiveness (as opposed to throughput, which I have not measured or compared) vs even XP is markedly improved.

    If you have a single core box with less than 2gb, XP is probably as fast or faster.

    If you have multiple cores, plentty of RAM (its CHEAP now, so if not why not), 7 will be quicker. Especially if you have a half recent 3d card, in which case much of the GUI is offloaded to it and its video memory...

    Moving forward, the benefits of 7 over XP (or vista) will only become more apparent.

  • by smash ( 1351 ) on Friday July 24, 2009 @05:35AM (#28804919) Homepage Journal
    I've been running Vista 64 on an X-fi since 2007. I have zero issues. Ditto since I've upgraded to the RC.
  • 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...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 24, 2009 @05:40AM (#28804937)

    Unfortunately all of this is practically pointless. I cannot remember when I last had a bluescreen in XP or any reason to wish for a better sound implementation.

    As for the new high-end tech:
    There might be one or two games that will actually use DX11 or lots of memory ... some time in the future. However generally speaking, games won't use that. Just look at how many games actually use DX10 today. At best there are a few that have a seperate DX10 mode, that's it.

    Game developers cannot afford to target such a small market segment; and Win7 + 64bit + >=4GB RAM + DX11 high-end graphics card will be a relatively small segment. Not to mention that almost all games are either developed for older hardware (indie, casual, etc.) to maximise market reach or for consoles with year old hardware, where the PC port is just a by-product.

  • by Jurily ( 900488 ) <jurily&gmail,com> on Friday July 24, 2009 @05:45AM (#28804951)

    despite the fact that GNU/Linux is superior in every possible way,

    Ever tried setting up two screens on Linux? It's a major PITA, and you get to choose between Xinerama and 3D acceleration (of course there's no hint about this tiny little fact until you check the X logs).

    On Vista it takes at most 10 mouse clicks and 30 seconds, and everything works perfectly.

  • by teridon ( 139550 ) on Friday July 24, 2009 @05:57AM (#28804991) Homepage

    In the special case where you:
        - have an Nvidia card
        - don't mind using Nvidia's closed-source drivers

    Then setting up dual, hardware-accelerated screens on Linux is also trivially easy -- just run nvidia-settings.

  • by Haiyadragon ( 770036 ) on Friday July 24, 2009 @05:59AM (#28804995)
    Have you tried DOSBox ( [])? It works quite well.
  • by Nursie ( 632944 ) on Friday July 24, 2009 @06:04AM (#28805023)

    Oh bullcrap. just use xrandr.

    Plug in extra screen, run xrandr to list displays and modes. Then run it again to switch on the new monitor at a chosen resolution and relative position.

    If you've got nvidia then the nvidia-settings applet will do the same (and don't tell me that's "hard", you do the same in windows for nVidia and ATI)

    I'm sure there are windowed versions, but this works perfectly for me.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 24, 2009 @06:26AM (#28805091)
    I cannot remember when I last had a bluescreen in XP or any reason to wish for a better sound implementation.

    the sound implementation in Windows Vista and Windows 7 have one thing going for them over XP and older: You can now set and mix volumes at an application level. That gives you the option to quiet down or even silence a particularly annoying program altogether so irrelevant notification beeps won't interfere with a game you're playing or movie that you're watching. It can be surpisingly useful at times.
  • by Clairvoyant ( 137586 ) on Friday July 24, 2009 @06:27AM (#28805097) Homepage

    Sure, then you end up with two monitors that can't really work together and are not customizable.

    The issues you're referring to are all driver related. The fact that both nvidia and ATI have already been releasing win7 drivers for months while still screwing around on Linux should make it all clear; It's about the drivers and the hardware guys just don't care about Linux enough yet. That's not the fault of the OS; it's the hardware a$$es not opening up their drivers.

    As for Linux vs Windows for multimonitor: Until about a year ago this was definately a problem on Linux as the drivers did not support it well enough. It works quite well actially. Also, setting up multi monitor does not cover "use a machine with 2 monitors". The actual usage, once it has been set up, is the most important part (which you're ignoring). Windows is not prepared for a multidesktop/multiscreen setup. It never has been. Linux on the other hand is quite different. Nearly all desktop managers support multi monitors properly. Ever tried multi monitor setup and opening up new windows? Windows pop up in the middle of the two screens sometimes, which is bloody irritating. The fixed task bar can not properly be split up between the two monitors and one who would want only programs on that perticular monitor to be in the taskbar on the monitor are completely screwed.

  • Re:DX9 vs DX10 / 11 (Score:3, Informative)

    by robthebloke ( 1308483 ) on Friday July 24, 2009 @06:44AM (#28805165)
    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 pato101 ( 851725 ) on Friday July 24, 2009 @06:50AM (#28805185) Journal
    Also, you can add a gnome-panel and drag it to second screen (press ALT and drag and drop it), and then place a window list applet to it: from that moment, each panel shows only the windows residing at that monitor.
    Compiz also is pretty well aware of the screens, so you can do scale ("exposé") to only one of the monitors if you wish.
  • by SplashMyBandit ( 1543257 ) on Friday July 24, 2009 @06:51AM (#28805189)
    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 DirectX, even if the hardware supports it (no real surprise there). Even newer versions of DirectX eventually lose backwards-compatibility as support is dropped for outmoded ways of doing things.

    Even OpenGL (which has vastly better forward and backwards compatibility than DirectX) suffers from this to some extent. For example, the ancient indexed colour mode is not supported on some newer implementations - although only many it can still be used but it is just slow (implemented in software). In general, OpenGL programming models have better longevity and stability than DirectX (and possibly the best of any widely used API). The downside to this increased stability/good compatibility between versions is that features are adopted at a slower pace than for DirectX (although OpenGL extensions are developed at a rapid rate).

    IMHO, if you need graphics you should use OpenGL instead of DirectX these days (JoGL under Java is an easy way to use OpenGL). They have approximate feature parity and similar programming models (the types of shaders), but OpenGL has the advantage of working on Windows AND everything else (all those iPhones and Playstations and Macs and Linux and Solaris boxen).

  • by nxtw ( 866177 ) on Friday July 24, 2009 @07:14AM (#28805261)

    In the case of some Intel GPUs (like the three and a half year old 945GM, which is found in most netbooks today), 3D is limited to a 2048x2048 total framebuffer shared between all monitors - so if your two displays won't fit in a 2048x2048 space, you can't use any 3D acceleration. So if you want to use, say, 1280x800 and 1280x1024, you can't have 3D (or a composited desktop) in Linux. This is apparently a hardware limitation.

    The Windows Vista/7 Aero driver has no such limitation, and I don't think the OS X driver does either.

  • 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.

  • by Dr_Barnowl ( 709838 ) on Friday July 24, 2009 @07:27AM (#28805309)

    Knowledgeable users manage this problem. They still suffer from it ; even the "sensible" software we install likes to add resident tasks. And virtually nothing can clean your registry out without risking terminal damage to your OS (unless you really know what you are doing, and I used to be one of these people - but I let the knowledge atrophy because it's more trouble than it's worth).

    One of the best utilities for this is Autoruns [].

    It certainly prolongs the MTBRBICWC for Windows (Mean Time Between Reinstalls Because It's Clogged With Crap).

    Linux definitely scores points here for storing application-settings in their own hidden folder in your home directory. Uninstall the app? Delete the folder. Or not, if you don't mind - it's not slowing anything else down, they all look in their own folders, not in one giant nasty binary blob database.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 24, 2009 @07:44AM (#28805395)

    Last time I checked you only lose 3d acceleration if you want to use multiple unrelated cards to drive multiple monitors (something Windows doesn't even support AFAIK).

    Windows has supported that for a long time. It's how we used to do multi-monitor before dual-head cards became common. It would also use the acceleration characteristics on both cards so if you had a fast card and a dog slow one, you could clearly see the difference when dragging a window from one to the other. Used both card's video overlays too. Very useful. A 3D accelerated desktop on the other hand wasn't around then and I haven't tried with modern cards.

  • by Ash Vince ( 602485 ) on Friday July 24, 2009 @08:01AM (#28805481) Journal

    Not sure what you were doing wrong, but I have found the Nvidia linux driver to be brilliant. You need to run nvidia settings with root priv's so it can output the xorg.conf file, but this is to be expected. Even without root privileges you can change most stuff in the current session to get dual screens working, it will just forget it all next time it run.

    My setup is to have one screen running at 1200*800 on my laptops native lcd, then have a TV output using a VGA to TV converter running at 1024*768 as this is the highest resolution it supports. I do have to choose which part of the screen I want to view but that is to be expected as it cannot scale two different shaped rectangles to be the same shape without distorting one, and that would annoy me.

    This might be different if I was interesting in dual heading them or something but since I want them running in clone mode where both have the same image on them I knew things would be a little clunky.

    Round pegs rarely fit into square holes without a little bit of persuasion :)

  • by gabebear ( 251933 ) on Friday July 24, 2009 @08:05AM (#28805507) Homepage Journal
    What was wrong with multi-monitor support on Linux? To me Linux's multi-monitor support has always been the most useful/powerful since I can tie any monitors together into separate X sessions. My latest encounters with Vista dual-screen have left me wondering if Microsoft is doing enough dual-screen testing. None of Microsoft's apps use their standard widgets anymore, which means they have to do a LOT more testing to make sure this stuff works correctly.

    My multi-monitor history:
    • 2000 - dual headed Win98 w/ 2x S3 Virge
      • Worked surprisingly well, but no frills(didn't have real 3D yet and everything loaded on the first monitor).
      • TV card completely failed to work in 2 head mode (an ISA overlay-only card)
    • 2000-2003 - dual headed PowerMac 6500 with a Rage2 and Voodoo5
      • Supported dragging opengl windows between cards, even if the frame-rate on the ATI was 1/1000th the 3dfx.
      • PowerMac's built-in TV did overlay when on ATI card, but when the TV window was dragged to voodoo5 it went into a blitting-mode which made the colors look a bit washed out and ate my CPU(still pretty seamless considering it worked).
    • 2003-2007 - three headed 1.7Ghz Linux Box with an S3 Virge and a dual-headed Geforce4MX
      • Not quite as seemless(if the S3 was combined in Xinerama to the Geforce, then accelerated OpenGL only worked on the first screen...
      • Kept S3 in it's own X session and dual-screened the Geforce4MX monitors with Xinerama
      • BT878 TV card that could either be put into overlay mode and work on first monitor, or blitting-mode and work on both and eat my CPU(not as seamless as Mac, but still decent)
    • 2007-2009 - Macbook w/ GMA950 (occasionally with extra monitor)
      • OpenGL works on both monitors...
      • TV now runs through a HD-Homerunner and MythTV(from my old Linux desktop). MythFrontend on MacOS works on both screens nicely...
    • 2008-2009 - Stock Dell, Vista w/ dual-headed Radeon(work computer)
      • For some reason Office 2007 doesn't play nicely with dual-monitors on this computer. Any application with the ribbon interface scrambles the toolbar if I remote-desktoped into this computer.
      • The screens would randomly trade places on restart... sometimes the left would be #1 and sometimes it was #2...
      • I tried a number number of app-switchers, all the second toolbar apps had serious issues, but I do like 'My Expose' []
  • by bruce_the_loon ( 856617 ) on Friday July 24, 2009 @08:16AM (#28805547) Homepage

    It's already in there and running. I can see the secure sound and video process running in Task Manager and get the degradation effects on non-compliant monitors.

  • by jimicus ( 737525 ) on Friday July 24, 2009 @08:16AM (#28805551)

    you can't have 3D (or a composited desktop) in Linux. This is apparently a hardware limitation.

    The Windows Vista/7 Aero driver has no such limitation, and I don't think the OS X driver does either.

    Are you aware that those two sentences contradict each other?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 24, 2009 @08:34AM (#28805657)

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

    Windows Vista drivers for the most part work in 7 - so you aren't using "early" drivers but rather drivers that have been out and improved upon for almost 3 years.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 24, 2009 @08:46AM (#28805727)
    No, run nvidia-settings, click the 2nd screen and say 'enable'. It's basically the same process as on windows now-a-days.
  • 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.

  • by Hurricane78 ( 562437 ) <deleted@slashdot ... minus physicist> on Friday July 24, 2009 @09:28AM (#28806089)

    I can give you some real data to back that up:

    According to Bitkom (the German organization for IT, telecoms and new media) [], 73 percent of online games are played trough the browser (e.g. Flash games). And the most used gaming device by far, is the PC.

    So that whole "PC gaming is dead" thing, is just a "monkey see, monkey do" parroting problem. A tiny group of uninformed but loud people said it first, and a ton of parrots repeat it over and over. Hmm... it does remind me of the 40s. :P

  • Re:DX9 vs DX10 / 11 (Score:3, Informative)

    by jpmorgan ( 517966 ) on Friday July 24, 2009 @10:34AM (#28806857) Homepage
    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 underlying hardware and most importantly- allows you to offload more of the rendering to the GPU by providing geometry shaders.

    So yeah, if a game's DX10 engine is sucking more CPU power than DX9 for equal visual quality, then the game's developers are doing something wrong.
  • by relguj9 ( 1313593 ) on Friday July 24, 2009 @11:24AM (#28807577)

    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 Windows is actually not evil and works pretty damn well (even Vista now).

  • by L0rdJedi ( 65690 ) on Friday July 24, 2009 @12:32PM (#28808569)

    What the hell are you running? A P3 with 128 MB of RAM and integrated video? I've found that on even a P4 2 GHz with 2 GB of RAM and integrated intel video (a low end machine by todays standards), the menus were far faster with the default settings under Vista than they were under XP. Sure, you can turn off all that fading crap in XP and make it faster, but I didn't have to do any of that with Vista to get really responsive menus. And if you've got a decent 3D accelerator (even a cheap $30 one), the system is even faster and you get the 3D flipping (which is pretty nice once you use it).

  • 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 shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Friday July 24, 2009 @02:42PM (#28810405) Journal

    Windows 2000 (aka Windows Classic) style is present in both Vista and Win7.

The unfacts, did we have them, are too imprecisely few to warrant our certitude.