Is it safe to just hookup a wired Xbox controller to my PC via USB? Do I need to buy a special PC Xbox controller? I've read conflicting reports. Any help is appreciated.
You can use an Xbox wired controller, or you can pick up the wireless receiver which plugs into your USB port and lets you use the wireless controllers with windows.
Here is a link to the wireless receiver.
Any wired Xbox 360 will work when plugged in to a computers USB slot. Windows XP SP 3, Vista, and 7 will automatically install the drivers for you.
There are some wired controllers that specifically say "For PC" on them, but other than the packaging they are identically.
It is a standard USB device, and you will not hurt the controller, or a computer you plug it into.