With all the attention being paid to the vaunted New Xbox Experience interface that will launch later this month for the Xbox 360, Microsoft quietly updated the Games for Windows - Live client today.
The update doesn't introduce any new functionality, that is planned later on with the release of a desktop client as well as the Games for Windows - Live Marketplace. However, the update does give the GFW - Live client a whole new look that's better suited for PCs.
The previous GFW - Live client didn't make much use of the bigger displays and higher resolutions that many PCs sport. It focused much of the interface in narrow boxes centered in the middle of the screen. The new client stretches across the top of the screen, and it presents more information much more cleanly than before.
Also gone are the Xbox 360 "jelly bean" buttons, the big colored buttons that referred to the buttons on the Xbox 360 controller. Those will appear if you plug an Xbox 360 controller into your PC, but if you don't have one plugged in, the interface defaults to a PC-centric look.
All the existing functionality remains. You can check your friends list to see what your buddies are playing and invite them to games or join one of their games; send message and voice messages, invite others to a private chat, and look up the people you just finished a game with.
That's useful if you have a good time playing a game with a random person on the service and want to look them up to send them a friend request. And, of course, the GFW - Live client provides in-game voice chat in the games that it supports.
Speaking of which, Microsoft visited us last week and said that it was working to make inroads with developers and publishers. It cited a recent win: Bethesda's huge hit Fallout 3. While that game doesn't support voice chat, it does make use of GFW - Live features such as achievements and in-game patching.
When the first patch for the game was released last week, all users had to do to install it was start up the game and log in to GFW - Live. The client detected an update was available, alerted the user, and download and installed the patch.
To update the client, all you have to do is log in to your existing Games for Windows - Live account. It will detect the update and install itself! More PlayStation 3 News...