(Note, I'm intentionally being a little dense here to make a point...)
BTW: If you want to skip to the point, get the updated 1.1 software here: Xbox 360 Accessories Software 1.1 32-bit for Windows Vista and bypass the excessive clicking.
I've got an Xbox 360, and I've got a PC and I've got four (4) Xbox 360 wireless controllers, so it was a natural thing when I saw the "Xbox 360 Wireless Receiver Adapter for Windows" that I'd take a look. Seems like a brilliant idea, right? A small USB dongle that lets you use your Xbox 360 Wireless Accessories on your PC. Brilliant. One stop closer to the "Games for Windows" (i.e. Vista as Game Console) dream, right?
Fabulous...on with the review.
"Setup cannot install this software because your computer does not meet the system requirements."
Um. Yikes. OK. I got this dialog after running Setup.exe. Didn't make it very far, this is the first thing I saw. My Experience Index in Vista Ultimate is 4.2, and my graphics index is 5.6. I guess my Pentium 4 4Ghz with 2gigs of RAM and a 256M video card isn't up to the task.
I guess I'll click "Check Online" and get a new version of the software. Click.
Um...ok. The Downloads Page of microsoft.com/hardware. I have Vista...what is this page telling me Or is it asking me something? Ok, I'll click on "Game controllers..."
Ok...I figure this qualifies as game controller. Hm...as I fill this four-step page out, I'm thinking to myself...
Moral: Don't force your users to click and answer questions when the answer is already available in "context" for the taking. You know I have Vista. My browser said so. You know I speak English. My browser said so. You know I'm trying to install this Gaming thingie. You could have just launched a browser and included this info in the URL/QueryString.
Ok, now I click "go." Hm. Another link. I guess I click on that.
All righty...now we're getting somewhere. Download...Run...gosh this seems like a lot of work.
Make it easy to update your software, and if you ship a setup.exe, teach it to "phone home" if there's a crucial update. Considering that the 1.0 disc I have is totally useless, I can assume that someone realized at the last minute that there's a bunch of Vista machines that were going to get this error message. If the 1.0 setup was built to check for newer ones, this whole thing could have been seamless.
You know what the ironic part is? Take a look at the Program Group in Explorer after everything is installed. There's a Check For Updates icon that points to checker.exe. Why isn't this updating process integrated into Windows Update?
Alright then. I'll run Microsoft Xbox 360 Accessories Status now. Cool, I just click the button on the Receiver and the button on the Xbox 360 Controller and they are sync'ed. Slick.
Looks like the Controller just shows up like it's a joystick in Windows, which is it. I like standard.
Well, this is a great dialog, but there's no support for remapping. I tried to get the Xbox 360 Controller to work in Half-Life 2, but unless I choose to learn the obscure HL2 language for this kind of thing, it makes the controller less useful.
All the "Games for Windows" games must meet a certain level of compatibility, but that doesn't help me for older games. The newer ones must support this controller (and widescreen monitors!) along with 64-bit Vista. That's certainly something to look forward to. There's just not a lot of Games out yet (and the Games site's "Game Advisor" doesn't support FireFox!).
There IS, however, a tool called the Pinnacle Game Profiler that says it'll add support for a Joystick to any game through a series of remapping profiles. Unfortunately, not only does it have trouble on Vista, but it caused Vista to display this astonishingly scary pair of dialogs that I'd never seen before:
This was of course, far too dangerous to risk on my new Vista machine, as things are humming along nicely so far. Who am I to install some crazy remapping software that's not Vista savvy. Maybe one day soon they'll fix it. I hear good things about this remapper.
Until then, my Xbox 360 Controller Wireless Receiver Adapter for Windows is unused, but I have high hopes.
Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. I am a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.