Microsoft will use Windows 8 to relaunch itself at the forefront of PC gaming, TechRadar understands, with the software giant ready to put its weight behind the platform once more.

The rise and rise of the MMO has underlined the power of PC gaming. Along with real time strategies and the still vibrant first-person shooter scene, it remains one of the planet's most popular gaming platforms.

However, despite Windows remaining hugely influential, Microsoft's reluctance to embrace the PC as a gaming platform in recent years has angered many.

Green shoots

A relaunched Games for Windows marketplace was a recent fillip, but it is the hiring of Rahul Sood, the founder of gaming computer brand Voodoo PC and previously an outspoken critic of the Redmond company's attitude towards PC gaming that underlines what TechRadar has been told about Windows 8.

"Windows 8 will represent a real new push into PC gaming," the source told TechRadar. "Gaming will be a key component for the whole OS."

Along with the new store, Microsoft has shown signs of waking from its PC gaming slumber in the course of 2010.

The announcement of a new Age of Empires game, along with Fable 3 and an updated Flight Simulator appear to be the green shoots of the new attitude.

Steam clean

The landscape will not be easy for Microsoft however, with Valve's Steam now a dominant figure in PC gaming.

Valve – the company behind the wonderful Half Life series, along with Counter Strike, Portal and Team Fortress – has established Steam as a gaming store, delivery network and hub for online gamers.

Microsoft will have the advantage of mass market, and could leverage the strides it has taken with online gaming on the Xbox 360 to try to win back the hearts and minds of the PC gamer.

And Windows 8 would appear the perfect opportunity to begin the hard slog.