It looks like Microsoft has finally caved to demands from PC gamers who have long-enjoyed online multiplayer for free. At its Gamefest 2008 event, the company announced it is making all of the Live functionality for the Games for Windows platform available at no cost - that includes Achievements, TruSkill matchmaking, friends lists, voice and text chat, and cross-platform play with Xbox 360 on games that support it.

The move is effective immediately and will affect all current and future Games for Windows titles too. In addition, Microsoft has reduced the technical requirements for those developers looking to utilize Live and will be adding a new Marketplace to the PC version of the service later this year along with a revamped user interface.

The move is certainly great news for gamers and should make Games for Windows a more direct competitor to Valve's Steam service. I wonder, though, if Microsoft plans to reimburse those who already paid for a Live Gold Membership.