Microsoft gave its Windows Gaming service a major push with the announcement of roaming profiles, along with 'zero-day' piracy protection and a marketplace API which will allow developers to create unique in-game stores.

In an announcement at the Games Developers Conference in San Francisco, Microsoft gave details of changes to its horribly named 'Games for Windows – LIVE online gaming service and community'.

The arrival of roaming profiles will be the most eagerly accepted new announcement, with the Microsoft service allowing users to save their settings to their Live account and retrieve it from any PC connected to the internet.

Also pushed was an anti-piracy solution with server-side authentication to help prevent game piracy, although this is always likely to stir up controversy from consumers.

Marketplace

The in-game marketplace could also bring some interesting developments, with the release of the APIs allowing developers to integrate their products with the Live service in a much more cohesive fashion.

"This update and other features currently in development represent a tipping point in the evolution of Games for Windows – LIVE as a leading online PC gaming network," said Ron Pessner, general manager of Games for Windows Live.

"In the coming months, we will continue to deliver on our promise to provide gamers and publishers with the industry's best connected gaming experiences through the LIVE service."

Steam rival

The need for an update is clear, with Valve's rival service Steam a popular and well-thought out service, and the increased focus on downloadable content all signalling a change in the market.

Rightly or wrongly, Microsoft's gaming focus has been perceived as leaning towards its Xbox service rather than the traditional PC strong-hold, but the company has often indicated that it is firmly behind the computer as a gaming platform.