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Steam hardware survey shows less use of Windows XP among gamers

The install base of Windows XP-based PCs among users of Steam has dropped considerable in just the past few months. The operating system, which is over 10 years old, is now used by only 25 percent or so of Steam users, according to the PC game download site's latest survey figures. That's down from over 33 percent of Steam users from the result of July's survey.

Windows 7, especially in its 64-bit version, is the current king of the hill with over 35 percent of Steam users having the OS installed and its expected that the percentage will continue to grow as more PC gamers update their systems. That's good for people who want to play games that will only run on DirectX 10 or DirectX 11. This weekend some web site spotted info that was actually first announced last summer. Battlefield 3, which will use a new version of developer Digital lllusions' Frostbite Engine, will be a DirectX 10-11 exclusive. That means Windows XP and its DirectX 9 API won't be able to run the game when it comes out in late 2011.

BioShock 2 PC details revealed; Best Buy to hold midnight store openings

If you have been waiting to check out the PC version of BioShock 2, you may be wondering if the sequel to 2007's acclaimed first person shooter will be just a straight port or will it have some specific PC features. Thankfully the game's community site The Cult of Rapture has you covered with a Q&A and even a podcast about that very subject.

The podcast has info from 2K Australia's producer Jake Drobowiecki who talks about their work on the PC port. That includes changing the UI and HUD in the game to work with a mouse and keyboard (in fact, they made the decision not to support controllers at all in the PC version). They also talk about supporting Nvidia's 3D Vision technology, having some visual extras for the DirectX 10 users (it also supports DirectX 9) and more. The feature also has some PC specific screenshots from the game.

In related news, Best Buy is planning to hold midnight openings on February 9 for the launch of BioShock 2. If you want to grab your copy in the middle of the night you can do so at these locations.


DirectX11 for Windows Vista now available

One of the big problems with Windows Vista was the fact that Microsoft's next-gen 3D graphics API DirectX10 was exclusive to the OS. That was likely the big reason why game developers were reluctant to offer a lot of DirectX10-supported games since the audience for such games would be limited. The release of Windows 7 last week brought out a new version of the API, DirectX11, but Microsoft promised that it would make an apperance on Vista.

That time has apparently come as a new automatic update for Vista has now implemented DirectX11 support for the nearly three year old OS. With two versions of Windows now supporting DirectX11 we expect game developers will embrace using the API in their games than they did with DirectX10.

[Via Blue's News]

Shattered Horizon system requirements bypass Windows XP


Futuremark Games' upcoming downloadable first person shooter Shattered Horizon has joined the still small group of PC games that cannot be run on Windows XP and DirectX9. The just announced system requirements for the game reveal that it will be running excluisvely on DirectX10 which means only PCs with Windows Vista and the just launched Windows 7 will run the game.

While this is still the exception rather than the rule the launch of Windows 7 today will likely be the beginning of the end for Windows XP as a PC gaming platform as more developers move onto making DirectX10 and DirectX11. You can check out the full system requirements for Shattered Horizon after the jump:

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Call of Pirpyat DirectX11 screenshots show off . . . shadows?


AMD made a big deal this week about revealing what games would be using DirectX11 as a way of promoting their new ATI Radeon chips. One of those games will be S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pirpyat and this week we got the first DirectX11 screenshots from the upcoming first person shooter along with screenshots of the DirectX10 version.

See the difference? Yep, it's hard to see but the enviromental DirectX11 shots have objects generating softer and more realistic shadows than their DirectX10 counterparts. The screenshot you see above is supposed to show a "normal" DirectX10 screenshot (on the left) and the tesselation support for DirectX11 (on the right). Quite frankly the visual difference to our eyes is minimal but perhaps it looks better in a live gameplay demo.

Feature: Steam reveals the state of PC gaming rigs before Windows 7


In less than two months, Microsoft plans to launch Windows 7. The next version of their PC OS has already been praised for months for being more stable and having better performance than its predecessor Windows Vista, which pretty much belly flopped when it was released just under three years ago.

Many PC games have felt that the poor reception of Windows Vista has affected PC games and their development so obviously they feel the launch of Windows 7 (and its support for DirectX11, the next version of Microsoft's game graphics tech) could help the PC gaming industry. But just what do PC gamers currently have in their rigs, just before the launch of Windows 7? Valve's hardware survey on Steam is always a good baseline to use and they have just released their latest info on the subject for August 2009. We've decided to take a look at some of the more interesting stats in the survey; you can check out the entire survey numbers on the Steam web site.

Click on the image above to continue reading how Steam's survey shows us the state of PC gaming rigs before Windows 7's release

Age of Conan launches free trial version


Funcom had a very successful launch of their Age of Conan MMO last May, selling hundreds of thousands of copies of the game's retail product. However it's been holding onto the monthly subscribers that has been the tricky part for the game since the launch. It has closed over half of the game's servers and Funcom itself has laid off a number of employees since the launch.

Today Funcom announced that it is giving folks a chance to download and play a free trial version of Age of Conan. The trial (which varies between seven and 14 days depending on the source of the download) does have some gameplay restructions but will allow folks to get a taste of the game. The trial version includes lots of new content, features and improvements that have been added since the game's launch. One thing that still isn't in Age of Conan is the long promised DirectX10 graphical upgrade althought it is supposedly in beta testing now.

Nvidia and AMD launch new mainstream graphics cards


Spring has arrived and with it some new mainstream graphics card offerings from the Big Two of Nvidia and AMD. From the Nvidia side comes the GeForce GTX 275, while AMD counters with the ATI Radeon HD 4890.Both are targeting the $200-$250 price range.

As far as comparing the two cards, early reviews from hardware sites like Firing Squad show that both have their advantages and disadvantages. The new Radeon card handles DirectX10 supported games like Stormrise and Battleforge better but the GeForce card has support for PhysX which more and more games are using for the in-game physics. The article also points out that these releases will likely be the last DirectX10 cards from both companies as the expected launch of Windows 7 later this year will also bring out the first DirectX11 supported graphics cards.

Stormrise PC to be DirectX10.1-Windows Vista exclusive


If you have been waiting to play the PC version of The Creative Assembly's next RTS game, the sci-fi title Stormrise, you might want to consider upgrading your PC rig. In a new chat at PCGameHardware.com, the lead designer of the title Artem Kulakov is quoted as saying, "Stormrise has been designed for DirectX 10 and Vista only right from the start."

Yep. That means all of you Windows XP owners (and there are a lot of you) are out in the cold when it comes to playing this game. Kulakov states the reason for the move was simple: "
Integrating DX10.1 was an opportunity to increase performance and improve visual quality even further." Of course it also limits how many units of the PC version will be sold (it's also coming out for the Xbox 360 and PS3). With the release of Windows 7 just around the corner this may turn out to be the last Vista exclusive game to be released.

[Via Blue's News]

Gallery: Stormrise

DirectX 10 Age of Conan upgrade coming in next update


Last week Funcom issues out a major new content update for their fantasy MMO Age of Conan. However the update did not include the long promised DirectX10 graphical features. However Funcom is promising that the next major update to the game will include the DirectX10 version of the game.

In his November newsletter, new Funcom game director Craig Morrison stated, "Since the outset we have been determined that the new DirectX 10 functionality would not just be a 'gimmick' addition to the game and would add visual quality to the game, we feel that the version we are preparing now for testing does achieve this and in a way that will find the right balance between visuals and performance." He added that all the new graphical effects are customizable so "... so that you can find the right balance between features for the performance level of your hardware."
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