Monday, July 30, 2012

Gabe, Blizzard and the Hate on Windows 8

Recent statements by industry luminaries have led to a cacophony of internet dribble about how Windows 8 is clearly the devil incarnate. Let's step away from the speculation and look at the facts.

Gabe Newell recently said in an interview with describing their future strategy on the PC. Gabe believes that getting their service and games on Linux is a good hedge bet considering trends he sees emerging in the market. What the internet actually went crazy over was,
I think that Windows 8 is kind of a catastrophe for everybody in the PC space.
To all fuel to the fire, Rob Pardo of Blizzard Entertainment responded on twitter.

Where is this coming from? There seems to be a sentiment now from internet message boards and article comments that Windows 8 is some walled garden of an operating system that won't allow regular applications to install or even if that's not the case that future Windows revisions will start to do this.

I'm no lawyer, but I highly doubt after their previous antitrust lawsuits that Microsoft wants to deal with another courtroom debacle.

From an enterprise perspective, locking down which applications can and can't install doesn't make a lick of sense. Both the private sector and higher education often rely heavily on legacy applications. Microsoft's bread and butter ARE these institutions that purchase volume liceneses for thousands of dollars. Do people really think Microsoft is going to ignore one of their primary sources of revenue? And if we're looking at trends, Microsoft has a clearly defined pattern of ensuring older applications will work on their systems using Compatibility Mode and virtualization which is included with Windows 8.

There is no evidence to suggest that Microsoft is closing off the Windows platform with its latest release. True, they will have an app store similar to Apples that will take 30% of the revenue but Steam already takes 30% so I'm not really seeing the difference. And while we don't have concrete numbers, a significant portion of people who buy Blizzard products these days are getting them directly from Blizzard (digitally) through their store. I'm not really seeing a difference in business practices here. Is OK for Valve, Blizzard and Apple to do this but not Microsoft?

I have been running the Windows 8 consumer preview since it was released as I need to be familiar with it for my day job. Steam installs and runs fine. Games install and run fine. There's no new specialized DRM that ensures people go through the Windows Marketplace. User account control is working the same as in Windows 7 so programming for permissions for the OS should be identical.

Yes, the Metro UI is atrocious and I dislike it like a lot of other commentators but I see nothing here that inhibits games, gaming or non-microsoft transactions from occurring. And no, there is no DirectX 12 included with the OS so there's not any big reason to upgrade to Windows 8 from a gaming perspective but that also doesn't mean it's a catastrophe.

Yes, you can program specicially for Metro apps and Yes there will be a new marketplace but even Apple allows any old application you want to be installed on your system. Windows RT is not full on windows - it's their mobile Tablet OS, which will have it's own marketplace just like the current Windows Phone 7. But this is no different then an unrooted Android, iOS or or Blackberry device.

Valve has recently announced their initiative to put their games and Steam on Linux. That's great. Put games on everything. But unless Microsoft or Apple pivot completly on the way their OS's are designed I don't think there's anything to worry about.