In Windows Vista, we introduced the Games Explorer. This is the place where you can launch and manage your games, including built-in Windows games such as Solitaire and Chess Titans, and also PC games such as Games for Windows (and Games for Windows – LIVE) titles.
In Windows 7, we are introducing new functionality to Games Explorer that we think people will enjoy. These new features in Games Explorer can not only be appreciated by the casual gamer looking to play one of Windows 7’s many built-in games, but also the more advanced PC gamer too.
The new features I am going to talk about here are available for you to try out in the Windows 7 Beta today.
When you first fire up Games Explorer in Windows 7, you will notice that Games Explorer is divided up between Games and Game Providers. Game Providers are the companies that distribute the games you install on your PC.
For example, I installed Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved from MSN Games, which was made by Bizarre Creations (the same folks behind Project Gotham Racing for the Xbox). MSN Games would be considered a Game Provider, and can take advantage of the new built-in functionality to Games Explorer in Windows 7. The only official Game Provider available today with the Windows 7 Beta is us (Microsoft). In the future, you can expect to see more Game Providers appear.
Games Explorer will deliver updates from Game Providers, including news and information regarding their own games. Updates from Game Providers appear in the right-hand Preview Pane when a Game Provider is selected. When you select the Microsoft Games Provider, you can see updates from us (see below screenshot).
Under “Options”, you can enable automatic update notifications for games, along with automatic updates to Game Provider news and information, or simply check yourself manually by right-clicking on a specific Game Provider or game and choosing “Check online for game updates”.
Another neat feature in the Windows 7 Games Explorer is the ability for you to see when an update is available for a game you have installed. I installed Flight Simulator X and Halo 2, and Games Explorer showed that an update was available for both these games.
Instead of having to launch the game and install the update through the game itself – you can now install game updates directly within Games Explorer.
In the Preview Pane for a game that has an update available, a button will appear to download that update. In the above screenshot, you can see I can choose to click “Download Now” for the update available for Halo 2 for Windows Vista. When you click “Download Now”, you are asked to confirm the download.
The update for the game will download and then the “Download now” button turns into “Install Now”.
One more thing… Games Explorer will track statistics for the games you play. As you can see – I’ve lost one game in both Chess Titans and Internet Checkers. Statistics are tracked for the different levels for each game. In the future, expect to see many of your favorite games take advantage of this functionality.
In a follow-up post coming very shortly, I’ll discuss the new Internet Games for Windows 7. Stay tuned!