My PC no longer suffers from Xbox 360 envy!
I'm not sure when the device was released, but I've been waiting for this for a while. It wasn't at the local Best Buy this past Tuesday, but I found a couple at a local Game Stop. It is the Microsoft Xbox 360 Wireless Gaming Receiver for Windows. With this device, you can leverage many of the wireless devices that are supported on the Xbox 360 from your Windows machine. The packaging stated Designed for Windows XP, however, you can download the software directly from Microsoft's website for Windows Vista 32 and 64 bit editions. I had a little trouble getting it to work initially and it turned that the USB port I had it plugged into wasn't working 100%... I'll have to investigate that further a little later. Anyway, when I plugged it into another port the wireless controller and PC synced right away.
However, all of this was not so I could get an Xbox 360 Wireless Controller to work with Windows. This is somewhat of a mute point right now since *most* games weren't designed with this type of controller in mind. Hopefully the Games For Windows requirements will help rectify this, but for now it's more of a novelty. To the real benefit...
If you play any games where you have integrated voice features (World of Warcraft, Dungeons and Dragons Online - Stormreach, Lord of the Rings Online, Counter Strike, etc.), one of the more annoying things is that you end up plugging in a wired headset just so you can have a good sounding voice capturing microphone. Unless you have two sound devices, the speaker in the headset is just there to act as a cushion for your ear for those long gameplay sessions. What would be nice is to have a wireless headset that was light (ie. comfortable) that could not only act as a voice capture device but that could also have other peoples voices routed to the headset speaker leaving the other game sounds going through your premium 7.1 speaker configuration.
Enter the Xbox 360 Wireless Headset. This device is very similar to the bluetooth style headsets for mobile phone devices. The voice voice capture quality is pretty good and it is a very comfortable device to wear for an extended period of time (though a little difficult to "put on", pulling my ear through the thing just feels strange). It also includes volume up/down and mute controls directly on the device.
On strange thing I encountered through was that as soon as the device was enabled, all sounds from the computer routed to the headset. Obviously not what I was wanting. Going into playback devices list, I just had to set the speakers as the default sound device.
Now when I launch Dungeons and Dragons Online - Stormreach, I can configure the voice capture and playback devices to map to the headset and everything is working the way I'd envision it should be... if you play on Xbox Live, you'll know what I'm talking about. I now get the same experience while playing on the PC!
Note: If your running Windows Vista, be sure to visit the Microsoft Hardware Support for Windows Vista page (or just click here for the Vista 32-bit English download).
Update: Someone sent me a comment pointing out Scott Hanselman's frustrations regarding this device. I agree with him on nearly every point he makes; except for the last in which he states:
"Until then, my Xbox 360 Controller Wireless Receiver Adapter for Windows is unused, but I have high hopes."
With the ability to leverage the wireless headset, it has immediate use for any games that you play cooperatively or competitively; even if the games don't support voice directly you could use many of the free products that provide voice support outside of games... including one of my favorites... Xfire... which allows you to specify the voice capture and playback device.