I know that Microsoft does not support and recommends against installing XNA Game Studio Express on Windows Vista. But this free (as in $0) product, that was released today (*), is too cool to skip. Since I only have Windows Vista installed on my machine I had to give it a try anyway.
XNA is a .NET based framework for creating and running your own games on both Windows and the Xbox 360. Microsoft has created a special version of the .NET 2.0 CLR that runs on the Xbox 360. Check out this and this Channel 9 video for more information on XNA. The second part has a very cool demo with live debugging in Visual Studio of a racing game running on an Xbox 360.
In short Microsoft's goal is "Bringing Game Development to the Masses".
XNA Game Studio Express is an add-on for Visual C# Express 2005. Since I read in the readme that it should be able to install on Windows Vista, I went ahead after installing Visual C# Express 2005.
The XNA GSE setup did not succeed because Visual C# Express crashed while registering the project templates. Running with elevated privileges and turning off User Account Control did not help. Forcing an install with no rollback by using "msiexec /i xnagse_setup.msi DISABLEROLLBACK=1" did not help either. Visual C# Express crashed while creating an XNA project.
Then I found out on the XNA Game Studio Express forum that I should install the Beta of Service Pack 1 for Visual C# Express first. This is not necessary on Windows XP, but it is on Windows Vista.
I created an XNA game from the included "Spacewar Starter Kit". The splash screen comes up with music and all but when I move the mouse over it, the cursor disappears. Controlling the game with the keyboard works a little odd because it seems to be optimized for two Xbox 360 controllers. The game has cool stereo sounds. This is a screenshot:
(*) As I found out from Erno de Weerd's blog.