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Games for Windows Live and Halo 2 hit Vista May 8th

While the editors of Games for Windows' official magazine may not be ready to drink the Vista-flavored Kool-Aid just yet, Microsoft is ready to give Vista early adopters a handful of reasons to pick up the latest OS upgrade ... err, at least they're ready to announce a date when you may want to plan on doing the picking up: May 8th. Yup, in eight weeks, Microsoft's Games for Windows Live service (doesn't roll of the tongue as easily as Xbox Live, eh?) and its inaugural title, Halo 2, will be available for Vista users.

Don't care much for Halo 2? In "June" Shadowrun -- the first Live Anywhere title enabling cross-platform multiplayer -- hits the Xbox 360 and Vista with full Live integration. The final title they're eager to talk about is UNO, which will be released on Vista "later in 2007." We're not sure why a seemingly simple title like UNO isn't making the launch of the service (or even getting a date) but Microsoft assures us there will be more news around this decision later and that it will be apparent why we're not getting a release date now. They also said cross-platform licensing decisions for titles like UNO have not been worked out yet; we're betting this is gonna get tricky.

Gallery: Games for Windows Live (old) | 4 Photos

We knew G4W Live would have both Silver and Gold accounts but we weren't sure what the key distinctions would be. Microsoft has finally lifted a dramatically convenient veil to expose a two-tiered system familiar to current Xbox Live users. Unlike Xbox Live, the free Silver account in G4W Live will allow for multiplayer gaming -- just not multiplayer matchmaking, or Live Anywhere cross-platform multiplayer, both of which will require Gold. Of course, functionality like gamertags and gamerscores will work fine with just a Silver account. GFW Live Gold will set you back $49.99 for a one-year membership, though current Xbox Live subscribers will have no trouble using their existing Gold account, and attached gamerscore and gamertag, with the G4W variant of the service. We believe that's what corporate types call synergy.

Microsoft wasn't ready to talk about the cell phone implementation of Live Anywhere either, repeating that they would be "crossing one bridge at a time." We look forward to getting our hands on this early taste of G4W Live and, notably, the cross-platform functionality, but are reminded that the Seattle area has an awful lot of bridges.

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