Dan Ackerman will have the update on all the Xbox 360 stuff from this evening's Microsoft press conference (to be fair, there's more of that than there is PC news). But it looks like I beat him back from Santa Monica High School, where Microsoft hosted the event. In the meantime, I have the dirt on Microsoft's PC-related announcements.
The two biggest items PC-wise are that Viva Pinata and Gears of War, both formerly 360-only titles, will be out for Windows by the end of the year. Interestingly, when Gears of War designer Cliff Bleszinsky (aka Cliffy B) came out to the stage to preview a new mission in PC Gears, he mentioned that it would be out for both Windows XP as well as Windows Vista.
We're surprised it isn't a Vista-exclusive, for both marketing and technical reasons (hardware requirements are unknown for now). Gears of War for PCs will come with five new single-player missions, all with cooperative play via Games for Windows Live. It will also include a level editor, and we're glad to see Epic stick to its roots in supporting the PC modding community as it always has with its Unreal titles.
And speaking of Games for Windows Live, Microsoft's oft-maligned gamer matching service, Microsoft announced that PC game makers Sega, Eidos and THQ have all signed on to make their games Games for Windows Live-enabled. Even better (for Microsoft, at least) is the news that Epic has agreed to embed Games for Windows Live-support in its Unreal Engine 3 kit. That means that not only will Gears of War and Unreal Tournament 3 support Games for Windows Live, but so presumably will any game from any other developer that licenses the Unreal Engine 3 for its own titles. Support from just one premier development studio probably isn't enough to push Games for Windows Live to mass acceptance, but it certainly doesn't hurt.
Finally, two Infinity Ward developers came out for a two-minute gameplay preview of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, showcasing a pair on snipers stalking the grassy area around a house.
No word on whether what we saw was on the PC or a 360, but it really looked outstanding, both visually and in terms of its gameplay. If the quality of the two in-game minutes we saw holds up throughout the rest of the game, we may get over our boredom with the various military gaming franchises.
You can go to CharlieOscarDelta.com for the game's official fan site, which also has info on how to get in on the 360-only public multiplayer beta.