An Interview with Microsoft

by Carolyn Koh,MMORPG.COM

Carolyn Koh gets caught up in the red tape at Microsoft and talks to their PR group in Seattle, WA about Games for Windows, DirectX 10, and how it applies to MMORPG gamers. She also throws in her own editorial voice in some cases

Recently, in my queries into Gaming hardware, I managed to speak to both Razer and Microsoft, eventually netting the interview with the mover and shaker, Robert "Razerguy" Krakoff.

Writing about Razer and our hardware reviews naturally led to their collaboration with Microsoft. Talking to Microsoft wasn't as easy. After many leads, passes and attempts, I ended up with their local PR group here in Seattle. The studio visit may yet happen, but until then, I have answers from the PR group in response to my queries about where Microsoft thinks Gaming and MMORPGs are going. I think I gave them a hard time because I crossed Hardware with Gaming and they had to get the proper answers from the right groups. Give the answers the pinch of salt they deserve. This is Microsoft. They have channels they need to go through. :) How many Gaming "groups" does Microsoft have and what do they do?

Microsoft: We have many groups dedicated to gaming - Games for Windows, Xbox Live, Microsoft Games Studios, Hardware - to name a few. Within these groups, there are teams devoted to different areas of gaming - peripherals, games, platforms, etc.

Drilling down would have probably yielded a thousand word essay. This is the summary answer. I tried to get more information about MMORPGs. Remember Mythica anyone?* Does Microsoft have a group directed at the MMORPG market?

Microsoft: Our Games for Windows initiative is dedicated to all PC gamers and genres, including MMORPGs. We are working to open up the exciting world of gaming on Windows by showing everyone - from casual gamers, to those who love first-person shooter games, to the MMORPG audience - the amazing experiences you can have on this platform. Tell us what Microsoft's Games Initiative means for MMORPG players.

Microsoft: The Games for Windows initiative means that we, as a company, are working to champion the Windows platform for everyone who loves gaming. One thing that has been missing from PC gaming is leadership and Microsoft, through the Games for Windows initiative, is rising to the occasion.

We are working to bring gamers a world-class platform with Windows Vista, one that will include the best library of titles, the best online service with Games for Windows - LIVE, the best accessories and peripherals, as well as first-class marketing support in retail.

A while ago, we looked at what we thought would be the top games in 2007 across all genres, including MMO and RPG. We worked - and are continually working - with the developers and publishers to ensure that these games run great on Windows by meeting a set of important standards. Now gamers can rest assured that all titles carrying the Games for Windows branding bar will reliably and consistently run on Windows Vista, as well as support all of the operating system's key gaming features.

Some of the specific Games for Windows titles MMO and RPG fans will be blown away by are "Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar", "Hellgate: London" and "Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures." We will continue to work hard to bring the best titles under the Games for Windows banner, so gamers can know they will have a great experience every time. Was the Razer / Microsoft collaboration initiated by Microsoft or Razer?

Microsoft: We do not share these types of details about our partnerships.

Razer however, was not shy to share that information with us. Robert Krakoff informed us in his interview, that they approached Microsoft first, based on the feedback they had received from gamers eager to obtain a mouse with the shape of Microsoft's IE mouse with Razer's technology Why was Razer selected to co-develop and co-brand a mouse and keyboard? Why specifically a Gamer peripheral maker?

Microsoft: We chose to partner with Razer because they are a leader in the high-end computer gaming peripherals industry. We believe that they deliver quality products that will complement our line of peripherals. Razer has been focused on the gaming industry for more than a decade and we want to leverage their gaming experience and brand credibility with gamers. How has the reception from the gamer market for the Razer / Microsoft Habu and Reclusa been?

Microsoft: Both products have been positively received by the gaming community. We cannot comment on specific sales data, per company policy. Will a full hardware suite result from this collaboration? What other peripherals are being considered, if any?

Microsoft: Habu and Reclusa are the only products that have resulted from our partnership with Razer. We have no other details or products to announce at this time. From the response of gamers viewing trailers of games rendered in DirectX 10, we know there is a high level of anticipation and expectation for the next generation of games. Does Microsoft also have a plan for an OS specifically created for gaming needs?

Microsoft: Windows Vista was built around gaming. With features such as the Games Explorer, DirectX 10, Parental Controls and Xbox 360 accessory compatibility, Windows Vista is no doubt the most gaming-focused operating system Microsoft has ever released.

The completely re-designed Windows Display Driver Model (WDDM) not only provides more stability and security for gamers, it also has the potential to provide better performance. The new WDDM utilizes the GPU to enhance the gaming experience by freeing up the CPU. That, along with DirectX 10's new shader model allows for the amazing graphics you see in upcoming DirectX 10 titles including "Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures" and "Hellgate: London."

Before Windows Vista shipped, we also spent a lot of time testing more than 1000 of the most popular games for compatibility on the operating system. We also made sure that more than 1500 titles would populate in the Games Explorer. Windows Vista is definitely, all about games.

Since Windows is the most popular platform in the world with 200 million gamers, we are confident that games will continue to be at the center of Microsoft's operating systems in years to come.

Be kind. Yes, that's a Vista plug, but I must say that their demo of DirectX 10 games at CES2007 blew my socks away. I can't wait to see the development at CES2008.

* Passages noted initalicsare the words of Carolyn Koh

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