This week, Microsoft released the 2.0 version of its Games for Windows LIVE client. Compared to the old version, which shipped about a year and a half ago, the new client is like a breath of fresh air. But it also seems to backstep from the original design, which promised a PC-based version of the Xbox 360 dashboard. This time around, you can still logon to your common Gamercard (really your Windows Live ID), but there's no interaction at all with that information after you're logged on. Instead, the client is just designed as a place to access downloadable content, which ranges from game demos and add-ons to game related videos (like trailers) and more.
On the plus side, Games for Windows LIVE no longer requires customers to pay for an Xbox Live Gold subscription, and the existence of this client outside of any game suggests that Microsoft will do more with it in the future. However, for this software to be truly useful, it should interact with Xbox Live Marketplace and give gamers the option to move content back and forth between the Xbox 360 console and the PC.
I still think the Xbox 360 makes a lot more sense for dedicated gamers, but if you are interested in Games for Windows LIVE-compatible games, there are now 8 titles available: Fallout 3, Gears of War, Halo 2, Kane & Lynch: Dead Men, Quantum of Solace, Shadowrun, Universe at War and Viva Pi?ata. I reviewed Gears and Shadowrun last year.