Microsoft is said to be bringing a bigger focus to PC gaming in the next version of Windows.
Citing anonymous sources, TechRadar reported yesterday that PC gaming will be part of a "new push" by Microsoft, as well as a "key component for the whole OS."
Little is known about the next version of Windows. Slides that leaked onto the Web earlier this year hinted at a variety of features, including a digital software marketplace that would let users purchase and install Windows software.
Over the years Microsoft has been involved with several similar efforts--both through its own marketplace software with Games for Windows Live, as well as its recently refreshed Web downloads store to offer gamers a way to buy and manage games. And beginning with Windows Vista, Microsoft made a serious push at making games a more central part of the Windows experience by tweaking its file Explorer system to turn the games menu into more of an entertainment hub.
Critics, however, have slighted Microsoft's ambitions compared to efforts by companies like Valve with its Steam platform, as well as Direct2Drive, Impulse, and Desura--all of which offer direct-to-PC downloads and community features, often times with fewer hurdles.
There are also some clear reasons to push PC gaming after taking a look at trends on the console side. Microsoft's console sales during 2010 were particularly strong, with research group NPD reporting that the software giant had sold 34 percent more Xbox 360 units than in 2009. Microsoft also recently announced that sales of its Kinect accessory had topped 2.5 million, halfway toward the 5 million the company expects to sell by the end 2010.
Perhaps then, this gaming push could be deeper integration of the kind of features found on Microsoft's Xbox Live platform, something that PC gamers can now get a taste of--though not without first downloading and installing client software. Taking that extra step out of the process, and building that interactivity in at a system level could certainly go a long way toward giving gaming a higher profile.