At Microsoft's press conference this year, the company made a point to say that they are not just about the Xbox, but they will put more effort into building up the Windows-PC gaming scene.
As a part of this new initiative, Bill Gates himself made an appearance at the press conference to announce the integrated expansion of what has made the Xbox so successful, Xbox Live. This new expansion is called Live Anywhere. With this new system made possible by DirectX 10, gamers will be able to access their Live accounts anywhere (thus the name). Whether you are on your Windows Vista machine, your 360 or even your Windows Mobile device (i.e. cell-phone or PDA), you can do everything from tweak racing cars, talk to friends to invite players to a match or check out how you stack up against your competition in head-to-head achievement comparisons.
On the 360, everything will look the same, except when you look at your list of friends. An icon will appear telling you if they are on a PC, mobile device or 360. You can interact with your friends just like you have always have, the real difference comes when you are on one of the other systems.
Shipping as a built-in feature for Windows Vista will be integration with Live. Since one of Microsoft's big pushes seems to be to release more titles on both the 360 and the PC simultaneously, users will be able to unlock achievements no matter which platform they are on. If you are playing through Shadowrun (the example used in the conference), and are currently on the PC, when your friend (who is home on his 360) asks you to play a few matches, you won't have to run to the living room (or home if you are at work) and play there. Just accept the game and it launches it right then and there.
This means that if you are more comfortable with a keyboard and mouse in your hand when playing a FPS, but want to play against a friend who is a die-hard console gamer -- you two can still go head-to-head. This common Live interface not only allows players on different platforms to meet up, but if the game developers wish it, you will be able to perform different actions on each platform.
The example given at the press conference was for Forza Motorsport 2. On the 360, you could play through the races as you would expect. But on your PC, you can spend time tweaking the paint job or applying different skins to your cars. Meanwhile, you can jump on your mobile device while on the bus or subway and change out some of your cars' performance parts in order to make sure your ride is ready for the big race that night.
Microsoft's efforts to help unify the gamer's online experience has done a lot to help further internet-based multiplayer gaming already, but with the new Live Anywhere system, users can stay connected and play longer and more frequently than ever before.