CES: Vista puts gaming front and center

Microsoft has decided to give Windows gaming a bigger role in the new Vista experience. Chris Donahue, Group Manager for Windows Gaming, showed-off the new features, which begin with a Games shortcut on the main Start Menu pop-up. Vista will automatically include any games you download/install into this directory, which can be sorted by Last Played and ESRB Rating. All of the classics--Solitaire, Free Cell, Minesweeper, Hearts, etc--have been re-polished and given a save game feature. In addition, MS has added Mahjong, Chess, Purble Place, and others.

The Games window will also let you customize controls (e.g. mouse sensitivity) for individual games and introduces an extensive, but user-friendly parental control system. Here's where parents might have the most fun with Vista. As long as your profile is the administrator and your kids' profiles have limited access, you can easily call up a scheduling window that breaks down every hour of the week into colored boxes. By clicking on a box, parents can restrict access to the computer during that hour. In this sense, you can set time limits and lockout periods, ensuring that "Toby" (that's the name used in our tutorial) won't become an addict under your watch. What's more, parents looking to settle a score can arbitrarily select lockout times. Has Toby been acting up? Put him on an every other hour schedule. Or maybe just allow access from 3-5 am. The possibilities are limitless...

This article was originally published on Joystiq.