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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 @05:01AM (#28804777) Journal

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

  • 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.

  • PC gaming is dead. (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 24, 2009 @05:19AM (#28804863)

    Diablo3 and Starcraft2 will probably be the last two major PC game titles. Everyone else has already moved on to consoles, so it really doesn't matter if Windows 7 has better gaming performance unless it can directly play xbox games.

    Microsoft worked very hard to kill off the PC as a gaming platform. It was clearly a strategic decision; they wanted people to use the xbox instead of the PC. By now we've lost an entire hardware generation of PC games because DX10 was Vista-only, and the studios knew that very few people would use Vista for gaming, so nearly all switched to console games or went under. I doubt many studios are going to risk releasing a new game for Windows 7, even if it's the bee's knees.

    Consoles cost less than PCs. Consoles don't have varying technical specs like PCs. Consoles have DRM and make it easier to sell downloadable content. Etc. Etc.

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

    by Krneki ( 1192201 ) on Friday July 24, 2009 @05:28AM (#28804891)
    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, this is why GTA 4 is waiting for a new system.
  • 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.


    3D Shooter Games []Feed @ Feed Distiller []

  • by smash ( 1351 ) on Friday July 24, 2009 @05:33AM (#28804913) Homepage Journal
    Pfft. Until there's a decent RPG or flight sim, consoles have nothing for me.
  • by kno3 ( 1327725 ) on Friday July 24, 2009 @05:37AM (#28804927)

    I don't agree. Demand for PC games is still very high, and although they may not be coming out at the same time, PC versions of games are still coming out in decent numbers. There are also plenty of titles that are released exclusively on PC, like Crysis.

    Also most hardcore gamers with the will to get the best out of their system use Vista64. There are just so many advantages, like DX10, proper 64bit support, better multi-core support, etc... I use Vista and have appsolutely no problems with it. You just have to set it up correctly, get rid of the stupid theme and animations, and disable things like the UAC and you have a brilliant OS with basically no drawbacks compared to XP (on a recent computer). And I'm not a M$ lover, I use Ubuntu for a lot of my desktop work.

    Also, PCs have DRM too, its bloody irritating!

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

    by smash ( 1351 ) on Friday July 24, 2009 @05:38AM (#28804929) Homepage Journal
    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 upuv ( 1201447 ) on Friday July 24, 2009 @05:57AM (#28804987) Journal

    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 bit, it should have been better than... Last but not least the Ultimate Edition was the ultimate rip off.

    I'm not going through that again. I see lots of hype around Win 7. I saw it with Vista as well. I see a truck load of promises. Saw them back then too. I just can't believe all the hype. What's the phrase. "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." or something to that effect.

    For me to use win 7 with in a year of launch will be extremely unlikely. I just can't see a compelling reason why I need too. Even gaming. There will not be a decent game out that will not be compatible with prior OS for well over a year. For me to need to use win 7 in the office is even more unlikely. The odds of me recommending Windows anything for the Enterprise is ZERO.

    The burn that VISTA left with me is tragic. I'm sorry MS but there are a lot of people in my shoes that feel the same way.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 24, 2009 @07:06AM (#28805235)

    It wasn't related to 'the slowdown effect'. I compared both OSes installed from fresh after a full format.

  • by asdf7890 ( 1518587 ) on Friday July 24, 2009 @07:11AM (#28805247)

    Diablo3 and Starcraft2 will probably be the last two major PC game titles.

    I'm guessing the people at Valve and a number other studios that we could mention would disagree with you there.

    Microsoft worked very hard to kill off the PC as a gaming platform. It was clearly a strategic decision; they wanted people to use the xbox instead of the PC.

    I don't think MS wants to kill of Windows gaming really. Many game makers would like to, because it is easier to manage their rights at the expense of the users on consoles. I'd say MS's position with the xbox family is more making sure they get a share of the console market pie rather than wanting to push people that way themselves.

    What is the difference to MS between me having bought bioshock for the PC and Karl having bough it for the xbox? In both cases MS have had money from the user directly (a windows license or the console) and from the game producer (in terms of SDK/support sales and licenses to use relevant logos on packaging), and in both cases none of that income is going to Sony or Nintendo.

    Consoles cost less than PCs.

    As someone that has always owned a reasonable PC for other reasons that "console are cheaper" has never worked out that way for me. Paying an extra 50 quid for a better graphics card than I'd otherwise have is cheaper than plumping down 200+ for a console and from what I've seen a given PC game is cheaper than the console equivalent more often than the other way around (especially a while after release). OK, so that extra for the graphics card is not a one off as I'll probably upgrade my 18ish month old 3850 at some point in the next year but buying a console isn't a one-of either given how many new controllers and other add-ons I've seen my cousins nag their mum into buying because some games aren't as good (or just plain don't work) with the standard ones.

    Consoles don't have varying technical specs like PCs. Consoles have DRM and make it easier to sell downloadable content. Etc. Etc.

    Those points I can agree with and they can make console much more attractive to game developers, but in an ideal world these shouldn't be my problem as an end-user. Of course the variation of PC hardware can be an advantage - if you make a game for a fixed spec (i.e. a console) there is a limit to how far you can push things, but in the PC world you can push the boundaries for the benefit of high-sec kit as long as you make sure the game is playable and looks good enough on more common configurations.

  • by Octorian ( 14086 ) on Friday July 24, 2009 @08:02AM (#28805491) Homepage

    There was a time that I preferred the "classic" theme (a.k.a. Windows 2000 style), but that time has long since passed. What did it for me? I started writing software for Windows (at work, did it for 2 years, now back to Java/Linux, FYI), and paid attention to little details.

    The WinXP theme may give you Fisher Price window borders (less annoying if you shrink their size, and there are other themes), but it also gives you MUCH nicer widgets/controls. Look closely sometime at a GUI (minus the window borders) in both the WinXP and Classic styles, and the difference is plain as day. So once you make a nice pretty GUI with the visual themes enabled, its a little disheartening to see it look like crap on someone's desktop who is using the Classic style.

  • by VisualD ( 1144679 ) on Friday July 24, 2009 @08:18AM (#28805559)
    Running 7 here at work with 3 screens just fine, Two on a 6600GT and one on the onboard X1100. Had to do a slight tweak to get Aero enabled on all three (force aero on and restart the display manager service). At home I have four screens on two 9800GTX+'s (FSX :) ) with literally zero config required (other than doing the placement in the display customisation screen). Couldn't get either of those configs stable on XP. YMMV
  • by eiMichael ( 1526385 ) on Friday July 24, 2009 @08:18AM (#28805565)

    My experience with ARCH linux has not included what you describe. My monitors are different size/resolution/refresh rate/manufacturer. I figure I should counter your anecdote with one of my own, just in case someone is about to make a decision based on your 1 experience.

    While GNOME so far has sucked it up with dual monitors (assuming at startup that both monitors are the same resolution), Linux as such has no problems, and neither does X. I just put my monitor-setting-up xrandr command into a script and assign it run after X starts up and viola. xrandr is so simple, that if you don't like it, just unplug your keyboard you pansy mouse lover.
    Avoiding the terminal in a *NIX is like going to an amusement park and avoiding all the rides. If you're here to play the quarter toss, we appreciate your patronage but you're not our target demographic.

    Also, to correct your last assumption, X was made for just the opposite. It was made for big fat servers to compute the programs, and have your dumb graphical terminal render the GUI.

  • by nxtw ( 866177 ) on Friday July 24, 2009 @08:26AM (#28805601)

    Are you aware that those two sentences contradict each other?

    It is a hardware limitation specific to the way the driver is implemented; the Intel driver only uses one framebuffer for both displays, and the 3D hardware on this GPU supports framebuffers of 2048x2048 or smaller.

    Windows and OS X avoid this by using two separate framebuffers.

  • 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.

  • by Shaltenn ( 1031884 ) <> on Friday July 24, 2009 @08:57AM (#28805801) Homepage
    I've been running Win7 exclusively (64-bit on Desktop and Laptop) and have had only two problems with any game I have tried to play:
    One was Neverwinter Nights 2, where there is a known work-around [There's a problem with DirectX not properly detecting video cards - fixed by a dll replacement]
    Two was with Tom Clancy's HAWX, wherein I'll launch the game, select my character, and the game will crash. I am working with Ubisoft currently to find a resolution [we are currently both stumped]
    Win7 even properly runs my old favorites such as Wing Commander 3, Wing Commander 4, Warcraft 2, Starcraft, gods I don't think I've had any game (besides the previously mentioned 2) NOT work. And I have a lot of games.
  • 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?

  • by Bobtree ( 105901 ) on Friday July 24, 2009 @10:25AM (#28806731)

    I really wish my TV had per-channel volume adjustment. Loudness abuse is seriously annoying.

  • by Blakey Rat ( 99501 ) on Friday July 24, 2009 @10:30AM (#28806813)

    X11 hasn't figured out the existence of "laptops" yet. It also has trouble with that whole "plug and play" concept that's only around 20 years old or so at this point.

    The problem is that people like us go into the discussion saying, "X11 doesn't work with multiple monitors," then someone on the other side will reply, "OH YES IT DOES! Use this program which isn't installed by default on any Linux distro and it works!"

    But what he doesn't mention is that he's running it on a desktop computer, and he never hot-swaps monitors. Most people use multiple monitor support to dock their laptop temporarily, or plug in a projector temporary. And that use-case, which is undoubtedly the most common, X11 doesn't support worth crap.

  • by Blakey Rat ( 99501 ) on Friday July 24, 2009 @10:37AM (#28806891)

    Strange. I thought that I had this custom Nvidia specific nvidia control panel application that was entirely different to the windows display properties box and installed with the Nvidia Driver. Maybe I imagined it though :)

    Yes, you *have* one, but you don't have to use, or even install, it. nVidia's drivers just install it because it supports some really crazy configurations that the Windows control panel doesn't, like rotating a screen 90 degrees. Apples and oranges.

    People who argue that X11 works just fine with multiple monitors are usually running desktops. It does work in that scenario, although it's still much harder to set up than in Windows.

    Where it doesn't work is on computers that frequently hot-swap monitors, like laptops. During the course of an average day, my laptop will have three entirely different monitors hooked into it, one of them a large desktop monitor, and two of them projectors with completely different parameters. I *could* do this in Linux if I didn't mind rebooting frequently, but I do-- Windows just plain does it right. (So does OS X for the record.)

  • Re:Question (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Rockoon ( 1252108 ) on Friday July 24, 2009 @10:54AM (#28807115)
    Sounds good when you say it fast.

    Several issues.

    First, it is not easy to virtualize all dos and bios calls into windows api calls. Some of those dos and bios calls do things which are strictly verboten under windows. Additionally, if you take a gander at "Ralf Browns Interrupt List" (which is a compendiam of DOS/BIOS/DRIVER calls collected by one man back in the day) you will see that there are literally hundreds of thousands of these things. The only "solution" is to actualy emulate an entire computer, complete with emulated hardware.

    Second, some of those old programs actualy expect to be able to do things only a ring-0 program can, for example configuring its own bizarre hybrid v86 memory models such as keeping the old segment paradigm but upping pointers to 32-bit. Again, the only real solution is to completely emulate an entire computer.

    Third, a 64-bit computer once in 64-bit mode cannot ever thunk to 16-bit code. The 64-bit mode entirely supplants the 16-bit mode. Again, emulating an entire computer is the only real solution.

    Finally, the features that some of the hardware had simply no longer exist. The SoundBlaster (and older Adlib, and its clones) had Yamaha FM synthesizer chips (the OPL2, OPL3, and OPL4) that are a patent minefield to emulate. No big company is going to emlulate them without something meaningfull to gain, and I'm sure licensing isn't cheap either (Yamaha is a bastard company which agressively protects its IP)
  • by flibuste ( 523578 ) on Friday July 24, 2009 @10:56AM (#28807137)

    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's counter-innovative.

    And Windows 7 is really impressive and easy to use/configure...I was in mental pain for Ubuntu when I started playing with it....It definitely has a much better usability.

  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Friday July 24, 2009 @01:04PM (#28809051) Homepage Journal

    Yep, that's the real killer. Whoever's fault it is, I couldn't care less; Under Windows I can plug in a display I've plugged in before and it heats right up; I can plug in a display I've never plugged in before and I can easily configure it from the nvidia tool, without restarting any applications. Sent me right back to Windows, which for all its faults is quite usable for most purposes if you have some decent antivirus (or if you never visit "scary" websites, or use the 'net without an external firewall, or...) and if you know a thing or two.

    My efforts to run Linux are further hampered by the fact that it's an HP laptop, and while all the hardware seems to work (save the modem, under 64 bit Linux anwyay) the machine always runs hot, gets poor battery life, and lacks stability. On the other hand, the intel wifi driver (5550 IIRC) did actually bluescreen and hang Vista on me the other day, which was somewhat astonishing. I mean, I expect crashes, but not to be staring at the ol' blue and white. This machine is a warranty replacement (!) of my old HP machine, one so crappy they failed to properly get it back from me at the end of the replacement period... and yet, they haven't asked me for it, and I'm not using it. It works okay if you force the CPUs to 1 GHz... HP? NEVER AGAIN

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