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Windows 8 arrives amid serious concerns from PC game devs
Windows 8 arrives amid serious concerns from PC game devs Exclusive
October 26, 2012 | By Kris Graft




Back in July, Valve boss Gabe Newell cracked open the floodgates of Windows 8 criticism, just ever so slightly, when he said Microsoft's new operating system, launching today, would prove to be a "catastrophe for everyone in the PC space."

Then you heard the echoes of other high-profile PC game backers, who vocalized their concerns about Windows 8, such as Blizzard's Rob Pardo and Minecraft creator Marcus "notch" Persson. "Stop trying to ruin the PC as an open platform," Persson told Microsoft, directly.

But aside from the random tweet or shallow game dev vox pop, few people (if any at all) really publicly broke down concerns surrounding Windows 8, until 17-year video game industry veteran programmer Casey Muratori did his due diligence and really put Windows 8's policies under the microscope.

A self-professed "grumpy old man," he criticized those policies for their lean toward a closed platform controlled by Microsoft. For him, individual Windows policy choices raised major red flags, but he found something much more worrisome than simple, yet potentially pernicious, policy changes.

"I look at it from a more holistic standpoint," Muratori tells me from his home base in Seattle. "What's happening right now with Apple, and with what Microsoft is about to do, very clearly represents a shift in the power structure of how software is developed. It's not just a policy change; it's not just another 'thing.'"

He continues, "There's an underlying mindset, and that mindset is a feudalistic mindset -- there is a plantation that a company will set up and own, and developers will work there, and they will pay whatever the tithing or tribute is, and developers have to pay that."

If you haven't been keeping up, here's the primary concern with Windows 8: This new OS sports a new "Metro" UI, which is now just referred to simply as the "Windows 8 UI." If a game developer -- or any developer -- wants their product to be compatible with all the fancy new UI features that Windows 8 offers, that software must be subject to Microsoft's policies, certified by Microsoft, and sold through the official Windows Store.



But that's not a problem, right? Developers will still be able to make and sell games via the older desktop interface -- the open interface -- many have argued.

"To some degree, I think that [argument] is almost immediately obviated by two things," says Muratori. "First, with Windows RT, there's no desktop on Windows RT. On one entire SKU that Microsoft is shipping, that [argument] is not relevant, because RT is not shipping with a desktop. So everything that ships on that platform goes through Microsoft.

"Microsoft didn't say [RT] is only going on phones. For all you know, the next set of desktops could be ARM-based processors. The next set of ultrabooks could be Windows RT. A whole slice of the Windows-based market could be Windows RT. There's nothing stopping that from happening."

Secondly, he adds that with the "proper" non-RT version of Windows 8, apps made for the old desktop cannot integrate with any of the new features offered by the OS. "What ships on Friday, all the new stuff, is off limits to you, if you don't play by Microsoft's rules. You can't ship a game with [Windows 8 features such as] Share if you don't ship through their app store and pay the toll."

A concerned PC game industry

When top people from places like Valve speak out against Windows 8, they're not just talking about restrictions on releasing their games, but about their own distribution services. If the desktop interface is marginalized or -- theoretically -- eliminated, under the current policies, Steam would not be allowed on Windows' new interface, or sold through the Windows Store.

Why? Because the new UI's certification requirements prohibit "Metro"-style apps from downloading executable content. That alone is a clear explanation of the whole "catastrophe" remark from Newell, and one can imagine that other digital storefront owners feel the exact same way.

While people like Muratori are skeptical, Microsoft has tried to assure gamers and developers that it won't mess with the desktop side. "We want the world of desktop apps to to keep existing [outside of the Windows Store]," Windows Corporate VP of Web Services Antoine Leblond recently told Gizmodo. "There's no reason to get in the way of that. Valve can keep being Valve."

Statements like that do little to allay concerns. PC game developers and executives have been quiet, even diplomatic about the changes Windows 8 will make. But rest assured, we know from highly-reliable sources that decision-makers in the game industry are extremely wary of the new OS. They just don't want to come forward about it quite yet.

These are what we hear are the most common concerns from the game development community:

-That Microsoft won't allow their digital stores onto the new interface, and that they'll have to pay a toll to Microsoft to get on the official store.

- That even if they can get onto the new UI with their app, there are concerns of being marginalized. The PC game installs look orphaned, compared to the Xbox Live-enabled content and games.

- That currently, to anyone’s knowledge, there's no rolling launcher that can take you seamlessly back and forth between the new UI and the old desktop interface. If there isn’t, then it inhibits PC games from being able to seamlessly launch games from the new UI in a couch-TV setting. This locks up that experience for the Xbox content that is featured on the new Windows 8 UI.

- There are still so many unknowns about Windows 8.

Apple envy

Matt Ployhar works at Intel's Visual Computing Software Division where one of his focuses is on games. On the side, he's head of the PC Gaming Alliance, a group of companies with a vested interest in the advancement of the PC as a game platform.

Previously, he was on the Windows 7 and DirectX planning teams at Microsoft, so he knows a thing or two about the company's ubiquitous OS. A through-and-through PC game advocate, Ployhar admits that when he was at Microsoft, he decried the idea of the Xbox, and wanted the company to instead focus on making Windows a better platform for games.

He's standoffish about saying anything specific about Windows 8 at this point, but as someone who played an integral role in planning Windows 7, he couldn't help but opine.

"Microsoft's smartest thing to do would be to move heaven and earth to work more closely with their OEMs in order to be more competitive with Apple," he says. "Some people might say they have done this and are competitive, but then look at Apple’s trajectory over the past decade. The uncertainty we're seeing by developers that's being covered in the press surrounding things like Windows 8 UI (Style/Metro), and Surface RT, make one think, 'Oh God...Please remove some of that ambiguity.'"



The success of Apple has shown how dominant a "managed experience" can become, says Ployhar. Apple platforms strike a managed balance, in that it has some of the advantages of an open platform, and some of the advantages of a closed one.

That doesn't mean that Microsoft should adopt the same tack with Windows. "[Microsoft] ought to replace the perception they've created in having Apple envy," he says. "They just have to stop that. I don't advise chasing Apple's taillights. They need to change the game, stop getting into the mud. Apple has so much critical mass right now, I'm concerned that a lot of people are going to get steamrolled by it."

The Ultimate OS

So we know the reasons why many PC game developers are wary of Windows 8, but if Windows 8 is so bad, what's the ideal -- the ultimate -- PC game OS?

Well, there's the open-source Linux, a platform that Valve's Newell said could be an option for game developers if this whole Windows 8 thing doesn't pan out. Steam now supports Linux, and Newell said games can be key to platform adoption.

Muratori argues that Linux just isn't stable enough, and it would take a concerted effort by big developers to make Linux a truly viable option. Who knows -- maybe Valve would spearhead such an initiative.

But before the situation would become so dire that game developers shun Windows, surely Microsoft would listen? What happened to "developers, developers, developers"? Ployhar says Microsoft could overturn some of the more restrictive policies, down the line. "This would play into one of Microsoft’s biggest core strengths, and what helped make them so successful and ubiquitous in the first place, which is to keep restrictions for developers to a minimum," he says. (Microsoft recently said it will fix a policy issue that would have restricted M-rated games from the Windows Store, for example.)

Muratori says that Microsoft does have a history of sometimes listening, and sometimes not listening, to developers. But even if Microsoft does hear pushback from the game development community, and even if it wanted to change, the new UI and app store are so much a part of the new OS's foundation and fundamental strategy, it'd be extremely difficult to roll back the moves, Muratori argues. "Something like this is a real bottom-line issue."

As for the "ultimate" PC game OS -- maybe that is exactly what the industry is beginning to lose with Windows 8.

"It's pretty clear that this was the best market -- an open market with a stable OS, that was actively supported by commercial companies, seems to be the best thing we've had," says Muratori. "Windows 'pre-this' was it. We were looking at the best thing that we had."


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Comments


Jane Castle
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Microsoft business model: "We just wan't to copy and\or react to Apple because we never really learned to be innovative as a company..."

Mark my words Microsoft is the next BlackBerry in the making.... slow to react and always much too late to the party.

Merc Hoffner
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I think it's also happening to Intel

Chuck Bartholomew
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Not sure how you came to this conclusion. Apple never put out a game console, yet Microsoft has one of the most successful consoles in the market. Microsoft also had a mobile phone OS long before the iPhone. Not to mention the fact that Windows is still the dominant business OS, and MS Office is still the dominant office suite. You totally had a point for a minute there though.

Aiden Eades
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Sorry Chuck but.

"yet Microsoft has one of the most successful consoles in the market"

In a market of 3 games consoles, Microsoft is in 2nd place. And that is by a margin of 2.5%, and when you consider they had a full years release ahead of the PS3 well. That 2.5% is negligible at best.

Even more so if you count the individual markets, whereby Microsoft only outsold the PS3 in NA, with the PS3 outselling in every other territory, despite the extra year to release.

That effectively puts Microsoft as on par with the PS3, both of which are trailing behind the Wii. So wouldn't that technically make it one of the least successful consoles on the market (ignoring handhelds. They hardly count as consoles)

Michael Rooney
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@Aiden: If you're measuring success as marketshare you might consider it less successful. If you're measuring it by things that actually matter to a business, they've gained 29% of the market where most entrants fail completely. That market has increased by almost 300% since they enterred it. The division that handles the devices in that market is one of the most successful divisions in their company.

It's hardly "unsuccessful".

Michael Ball
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@Chuck
"Apple never put out a game console"
http://lmgtfy.com/?q=apple+pippin

Chuck Bartholomew
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@Michael - sorry...let me revise: Apple never put out a _successful_ game console.

Merc Hoffner
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@ Chuck

I don't think Jane was confining her point to the realm of gaming. And having a phone OS before Apple is testament to how lost they really are; they came out what, 5 years earlier with no competition, and were STILL playing catch up with basics with Windows phone 7 in 2011, to not only Apple, but their mortal enemy Google as well. Remember Kin? The first Surface? Windows XP Tablet edition? Windows Media Centre (and extender)? Play For Sure? Courier? No? Those were when they were leading. How about when they were following. Zune? The Social? Bing? Bing Maps? Internet Explorer (OK, that one succeeded). etc. etc. They are a bit like Sony, in that they're trying EVERYTHING and succeeded at very little, only on a bigger scale with OS and office stalwarts to keep them in the black. But they are a lost company. It's in their culture. That's what happens when you build silo divisions and make them compete - makes you competitive for a few years - then creates a split, confused, infighting, directionless culture in the long term.

How else do you explain (as I count it) no less than 4 active store fronts?: We're looking at non-unified though certainly indistinct platforms with Windows Phone Store, Windows Store for RT, Windows Store for x86, Xbox Live Marketplace and Microsoft Store Online, plus all the dead ones, plus the proprietary 3rd party store fronts that gamers would rather use. On top of that we're looking at similar but distinct Metro interfaces on Xbox, Phones and Windows 8, at the same time as Aero desktop. We're looking at at least 4 active platforms (Xbox, Windows Phone, Windows 8 RT and Windows 8) on 3 incompatible hardware bases (Power PC, ARM, x86). And then there's the hundreds of millions on legacy platforms. This. is. a. nightmare.

@ Michael R

If you want to measure their success by the things that matter in business, then you can't do much better (or worse in this case) than money. As it stands, Microsoft's made more losses than any player in history. They're sitting on a multi-billion dollar loss after a multi billion dollar loss, having promised themselves they'd try and make a financially sound machine. This is at the same time that a 'niche player' they considered insignificant, ran away with the market, growing faster than the market did (implying the traditional market had actually shrank) and made all the money. Want some other metrics? Their market share gains are one of the smaller share gains in history (smaller than Genesis, PSX, Wii and PSP). They've variously moneyhatted or anticompetatively leveraged support from every last developer yet still not managed to conquer the market - a first for consoles. At the continuing rates they're expected to be outsold internationally by PS3 leaving them a close third - one step behind last gen. Their arms race pursuit of graphics has left an unprecedented number of studios out of business and the market cold on sales relative to last gen. Having issued a recall of 14 million power supply units for the first Xbox for fear of causing fires, they proceeded to learn no lessons and issued a machine with the highest failure rate in living memory, with the shortest warranty in living memory (4 X below the legal requirement here in the UK). Having transitioned their department into profitable territory after 8 years on the market, they swung back into losses before the generation was out - a period when, decent install rate withstanding, they should be most profitable.

Now I'm not saying they're sitting on a poison pill like Sony is, but the Xbox has, at best, been pretty bad for business. If the extended platform offered a powerful strategic advantage, that could say, stave off the onslaught from Apple or Google, or even Nintendo, then it might be worth it. But it hasn't has it?

Michael Rooney
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@Merc: The EDD division has been profitable for a few years now. In 2011 they posted a >$1 billion profit (this might have been fiscal year 2010. I can't remember how MS fiscal years line up).

Merc Hoffner
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And in if memory serves the last few quarters have seen them transition back into losses, with slowing performance of their gaming operations partially blamed.

Michael Rooney
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@Merc: They were profitable last quarter o.O

Trent Tait
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Microsoft will rue the day they bailed Apple out.

Raymond Grier
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@Chuck Microsoft didn't want to make that console and had to be talked into it. Even then they weren't really onboard with it until it became successful at which point their suits wanted more say in future development. I don't have the link but recall there is a Gamasutra article regarding the origin of the XBOX.

*Gamasutra is a spelling error on the Gamasutra site, say it ain't so.

ibrahim adams
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Developers chose this future when the banded like hungry dogs towards the app stores of apple and the like... In fact, the existence of paid platforms like steam and the support given to them by developers has led to this so we should all shut up and live in the future we have created. I think the only way developers can prevent this nonsense is by coming together and pulling their apps from all paid stores, afterall, they one way or the other contribute to the success of the platforms.

Trent Tait
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What a ridiculous statement. Paid, closed environments are great for the end users and developers alike in terms of app availability and security. By using the app stores, developers did NOT say they wanted no other way to get apps onto a device. Supporting a platform that deliberately does this is a different story. Steam does not restrict you installing non-steam software on your PC. Android does not stop you either.

Harlan Sumgui
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It is sad because the people who absolutely love PC gaming love it because it isn't managed. The edit game files, instal/create mods, spend thousands on parts they choose themselves...

If that freedom starts disappearing, and WindowsUI becomes nothing more than a glorified xbox store-front in terms of gaming, the PC gaming community will dissolve.

There is a palpable anger over Windows8 that I really cannot recall ever having seen in tech circles before.

Windows pre-8 really was the best of both worlds: stable managed OS + wide freedom for users and developers.

Bernardo Del Castillo
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Ok .. I may be misinformed, but isn't that still the case?
From what I understand, the Metro UI (and particularly the RT version) is mostly based on tablets, right? so what they are doing is uniforming an "app store" just as what apple does... Do we have a problem with that? no, right?

Will RT proliferate? we dont know, I'm inclined to think it won't, simply looking at the track record, few Microsoft concepts really catch fire. But even if it did, I look at it as a WIN 8 lite. I dont see anyone complaining for the "un-modablility of iOS". Win 8 PC (or pro) keeps the same tools as it has today.
I still use steam as my main gaming platform, so I fail to see the fatalistic aspect of this.

I personally use the MetroUI as the start menu with extras. And I don't see the pc playing crowd changing that anytime soon. It's clear that it might hamper some of the freedom to users and developers, but it seems people are seeing this as a revolution that it is not.
This negativity and cataclysmic expectations, seem a bit misplaced. Since little to nothing has been done to limit the functional aspect of the Pc as a gaming platform.

(or maybe I'm not understanding, but having played around with the OS, I still don't see anything as authoritatian as what I've seen in mountain lion or iOS)

I know nothing of linux sooo I can't say. Maybe that is the way to go ...
Maybe IT IS THE END OF THE WORLD!

Simon Ludgate
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It seems to me that the biggest challenge facing Microsoft right now is a sort of identity crisis. Whereas Apple has this strong sense of identity - everything they make looks and feels and functions kind of the same across two distinct lines: iOS and OSX - Microsoft has these different competing and very different-feeling things that are all collapsing in on each other: the XBox dashboard, the Windows Phone, the Windows Desktop environment, Games for Windows Live... and now 8/RT/Surface. It's like they're pushing all their "cool ideas" from non-desktop environments into the desktop... and ending up with a jumbled mess of stuff that just doesn't work there.

At the same time, people have to respect Microsoft's decision to change identity if they do decide to go from being a desktop company to being a tablet and game console company. Ultimately, Microsoft may be getting out of the desktop business, and harping on about how Microsoft is failing to meet the needs of desktop developers is barking up the wrong tree. Microsoft's exodus from the desktop space may leave a very raw void, but its up to competitors to fill that void, not up to game developers to nag Microsoft until they fill it up again.

Chuck Bartholomew
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Great observations about Microsoft's UI cross-pollenization. From a business standpoint, having a single user experience across a product portfolio is a good thing - it makes it easier and more attractive to users to transition from one device to another when the "work the same". But to borrow an example from Apple, what works for the iPhone / iPad does not work for the Mac because they have completely different interface devices (touch vs. mouse & keyboard).

Its not surprising to me that the criticism of Windows 8 is coming from the game industry. We have explored and occasionally struggled for quite some time with making games of various genres work on new platforms. There is a reason why RTS games are much more popular on the PC than consoles. Controls are a HUGE consideration in games.

I don't think Microsoft is trying to get out of the desktop business. I just think they're taking a risk to see what people think of it. That's called innovation, and its a good thing. Time will tell if the market accepts the new interface or not, and Microsoft will react accordingly to keep their market share.

Michael Rooney
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edit: On re-reading your comment. I think I totally misunderstood your point and I agree with you.

Aleksander Adamkiewicz
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There are 5 things that are stopping me from dropping windows entirely and moving to Linux:

1. Distro fragmentation and stability (unfortunately all linux distros were kind of unstable)
2. manufacturer hardware support (recently tried joliOS, it didn't recognize Wifi on my netbook, useless)
3. game support
4. an equivalent replacement of the Adobe CS (honestly, inkscape and gimp don't hold a candle to photoshop or illustrator, not to mention AE or Premiere which have no equivalent)
5. true usability on a medium level of expertise (i.e. i don't need to console everything to fix it)

Fix those 5, and ill drop Windows so hard it will cause a nuclear winter.

Michael Rooney
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@"There are 5 things that are stopping me from dropping windows entirely and moving to Linux:"

As a user or a developer?

Aleksander Adamkiewicz
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As a user, i've mentioned in a post above that im not a dev.

E Zachary Knight
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Here are some answers:

1) Ubuntu is trying to establish a stable and consumer focused distro. They are working that angle hard.
2) For most hardware, this is not an issue. Especially when using a distro like Ubuntu.
3) This is being solved as we speak with Unity3d, Moai, Steam, Humble Bundle and more.
4) Yeah, Inkscape and GIMP are pretty much not going to meet the expectations of Adobe users. However, for the majority of casual PC users, they are sufficient.
5) Try Ubuntu. I rarely have to go command line unless I am doing power user level stuff.

Casey Muratori
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Regarding Ubuntu, I think you're really overstating the case. I run it on two machines here, and despite being a dev, the sound doesn't work properly on either device. This is typical with Linux in my experience, namely that it's very difficult to get it configured properly for a particular piece of hardware. End users will _definitely_ not be able to do it if I can't do it.

Furthermore, have you seen 12.10? They now ship by default with Amazon search results _in the start bar_. How exactly would we make the case to people that they should switch to this "open" operating system when the first thing they will see when they type in a program name to the start box is a bunch of Amazon product links?

It's a disaster.

- Casey

Aleksander Adamkiewicz
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Zachary, 1. isnt a solution, its just an attempt (other distros dont stop existing), 2. ive run into several problems with ubuntu, especially on laptops/netbooks 3. needs a lot more work, because im not abandoning my existing games library on PC (i.e. this is unsolvable, i will always need windows, bare GOG/Steam/Gamersgate going insane and porting their entire library to linux) 5. ubuntu (and just about any linux distro i tried) is simply too much work to a medium user to get to work properly, its simply not efficient as long as I have win7. If win7 ever becomes a non-option i might be pressured, but i wouldn't be counting on it, id rather switch to Mac (oh dear, i seem to have thrown up in my mouth a bit there).

Michael Rooney
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@"The issue of games, tools and drivers is just a viscous cycle, the lack of these programs makes Linux less popular thus there's no reason to port these programs to Linux. If you rather pay and not deal with that then that's fine, but it isn't a fair point. And you absolutely don't need the console to fix things. Things may not be as "intuitive" as Windows, but that's purely because you've been using Windows since you were a kid."

I'm not sure I agree with much of this. Linux is less popular in large part because it is more difficult to use. It is less intuitive for people deeply involved in tech, but for people who just want a computer (the majority of people), it is very difficult to get started. A good though experiment would be the next time you install Linux/Windows 8 and begin to use it pretend the only thing you know about PC operation is how to physically operate it. How far do you get in your Linux install/use before you have to use some existing knowledge about linux? How far do you get in a Windows install/use before you have to use some existing knowledge about Windows? How much of either can you find out just by exploring the system? How much of either do you need external help for?

That is by far the largest hurdle Linux has yet to overcome on PCs. Maybe Google or Valve will realize that soon and boost the user experience for people that have never used Linux before, but I don't see it changing in a huge way anytime soon.

Michael Rooney
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@"When was the last time you used Linux, 1995? Install Ubuntu, Fedora or Mint and check for yourself how easy it is to use. Unlike Windows, popular Linux distributions come with A LOT of software as standard, an average user doesn't even have to install anything. Ubuntu and Mint, for example, come with software center that let you search and install and remove plenty of software for free with the push of a single button."

I think the last time was ~2 years ago. Maybe it's improved a lot since then, but every time I've tried to use it it's felt less intuitive than window or mac.

Aleksander Adamkiewicz
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For usability, lets use my JoliOS example. (JoliOS is an ubuntu derivative afaik)
On my netbook the OS didn't recognize my WiFi hardware and I was tied to a LAN cable.

On any windows OS, i would have checked the device manager to figure out if there is a driver problem or a hardware malfunction (not only that but windows would have notified me that a problem exists with the hardware via bubble). I would then see how my hardware was being handled by the OS, and the solution (excluding hardware failure) would have been a few clicks away by reinstalling the drivers or figuring out the hardware conflict.

In joliOS the only thing i could find is right clicking the network symbol and going into settings, then it presented me with an empty window of "devices".
When i clicked "add device" it prompted me with another window to add things i didn't even know (like the IRQ of the card, its "port" w/e that means, etc. 3 tabs of hardware info).
I mean what mid-level user remembers his onboard wifi-cards IRQ?
The support page threw some terminal commands at me (sudo this and sudo that).

JoliOS is supposed to be a simple, intuitive and pleasant netbook-OS with integrated cloud support, it isn't supposed to be techno-sorcery.

Linux had forever the problem of having an interface-design that is understandable and intuitive, simply because its made by programmers that know the OS from the inside out. Linux distros rarely go through any sort of -actual- consumer testing and QA. The QA is provided in forums and msg-boards populated by Linux enthusiasts. As someone that designs an OS, obviously, if you only have feedback from people that are power-users it will lead you to design an interface that is -for- power-users.

I didn't have a problem learning a Mac, and that was only 5 years ago, I tried Linux distros many, many, times and I can't figure them out without being forced into the terminal sooner rather than later.
Apple was able put out a relatively clean and intuitive OS that is based on BSD, so should any other distro.

The website advertises that joliOS works on 95% of machines out of the box, i guess i'm the 5%.

Gerald Fishel
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People talk about the stability of Windows, but in my experience the stability of Linux is often even worse. I have had to support software on Linux for many years, and quite frankly it has been the bane of my existence. Probably at least 20% of the time there is a hard system crash (i.e. power failure) during bootup or some other point where system files are being manipulated, the system is hosed and can no longer boot. Perhaps it can be fixed, but most of the time it's easier to just reinstall. And yes, this includes Ubuntu, which I've been mainly using for the last couple of years. It also freezes up quite frequently when making extensive use of graphical applications on many machines.

Manufacturer support is definitely a problem, and a big one. At one location I have ADSL internet that requires the use of a USB modem (no ethernet connection is supported), and while it is possible to get the ADSL to work with Linux, the instructions to do so are 12 pages long and includes downloading and installing about 16 different libraries, modifying and/or creating several text files, and a bunch of other nonsense. And then it still randomly stops working every couple of hours and requires a reboot. So I have a Windows machine that has a sole purpose of being an expensive ADSL router.

It is simply not very user friendly. The desktop has made some big strides since I've first started working with Linux, but it is still light years behind Windows. I've tried to get many end users to use Linux, especially those on tight budgets, and almost all of them have abandoned it because it was too complicated. It also just looks cheaper.

Part of the problem is the whole mindset of the "open source" world. So much of the software that is available for Linux does not have easy to find binary distributions, instead requiring users to download and compile the software. Sometimes the process is automated (usually via the command line), sometimes not. When you have end users that are not particularly tech savvy, and you tell them they need to compile the software that they want to use, it doesn't take long before they're shutting down and going back to their Windows machines.

The hype about "security" around Linux is quite a bit overrated as well. Consumer Linux machines don't have a huge virus problem for the same reason that OSX didn't until recently: there weren't enough people using it for people who make viruses to care. On the business end of Linux, I don't think I've ever seen a Red Hat Enterprise or CentOS web server that didn't end up with one or more rootkits installed on them at some point, which becomes a huge pain in the butt when these web servers that are sitting on high capacity backbones start sending out DoS attacks. By the same token, I don't think I've ever seen a virus or rootkit on any Windows Server 2008 machine. Sure you *can* make Linux very secure. You just can't use it for much of anything after you do so.

Kirk Black
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Linux needs to substantially improve it's 3rd party distribution and have a longer-term binary backwards and forwards compatibility vision. This is what made Windows such a strong dominant OS for the past 20 years. I can compile and distribute a binary that "just works" on nearly every flavor of Windows going back to Win95 all the way to the never-existed-at-the-time-of-compiling Windows 7.

With Linux, the first question a developer thinking about distributing software has to think is "which Linux?". There's literally 100s. And even within a particular micro-flavor of Linux, there's no guarantee your binaries will function after the next release much less work within the entire Linux desktop ecosystem.

Trying to truly support Linux as a developer and publisher is tedious, time consuming and the Linux market is so fractured it's generally not worth considering.

I find it telling that Android has now become so popular and you can argue Android is now the most popular Linux distro. And it's done so because it really ironed out it's 3rd party support and distribution.

Paulo Ferreira
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I have mixed feelings.

As a ex-linux user, activist and developer, I feel very sorry for PC developers for losing their "open" platform. I would also claim that Windows was never 'open' in many ways, so, as a property of Microsoft, there is nothing to stop them for closing up their ecosystem. That would never happen in a truly open world, but I digress..

I'm also an iOS developer, and right now I'm buying my house with the money I earned on app store. Where I come from, Brazil, to buy a house is *very* difficult for those who doesn't have rich parents, so it's kind of a big deal for me. And if it wasn't Apple closed, high quality, rentable ecosystem, I would never have so much money.

So here I am. I know how a closed ecosystem could be evil, but I also earned a good money in an evil closed ecosystem, so, right now I'm not sure which side to take on this debate..

Harlan Sumgui
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Congratulations!

Michael Rooney
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I think it's dangerous to look at it solely from a developer perspective. A good amount of locking down non-desktop apps is due to security and performance as well. I think a lot of people are forgetting that a lot of the things developers hate about windows 8 are things that consumers are going to love about it.

The only thing I find potentially upsetting is how much control Microsoft could have over revenue splitting, but right now they have one of the best splits of any distributor/publisher around. I'll worry about that more when it actually becomes a problem.

Harold Myles
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I think one of the things to note about the closed gardens of MS vs Apple is the difference in existing markets.

When Apple came out with their iPhone and App Stores the smart phone Apps market essentially didn't exist. With Windows, there are existing business' running on Windows platforms. Windows 8 threatens to shutter and strangle those already existing businesses who are direct competition with the Windows Store.

Apple grew something. MS is trying to kill something.

That is the difference.

Michael Rooney
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iOs and Android killed plenty of distribution channels on phones. They just replaced it with something better for consumers (edit:) and developers so nobody cared.

Harold Myles
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@Michael

I suppose. But I did say 'smart phone Apps market essentially didn't exist.' The key word is 'essentially.'

In the early 2000's you could measure the number of smart phones in the market in the low millions. Today it is approaching a billion, with a 'B.' The software market, as in third party apps, back then again essentially didn't exist compared to today. Before and after iPhone/Android smart phones wasn't an evolution it was a revolution, it affected pretty much everything. So much so that it is now changing the desktop.

Windows, as a platform, already host the largest third party software market. Microsoft isn't going to grow that from millions to billions. It's already billions.

Michael Rooney
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You're starting your argument by assuming the third party software market will shrink with microsoft's store. That remains to be seen. As a developer I'm really excited for the kind of numbers a ubiquitous windows store would allow. If windows 8 sells as good as vista it will have 4 times the current user base of all of iOs. If it sells as good as windows 7 it will have >6 times.

That is phenomenal market availability. Good luck reaching that number of people with the distribution channels that currently exist today.

Harold Myles
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@Michael

As a developer I too am actually optimistic about the Windows Store.

However, as an end-user, and a gamer, I only care if the Windows Store has the same value as Steam. And if it doesn't, I only care if I can continue to use Steam, GoG, Battle.net store, or my League Of Legends store, as easily and pain free as I can today. And that the products that I get from those services are not diminished by the existence of the Windows Marketplace.

Michael Rooney
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Another thing worth mentioning is that their offerring 8 at the lowest upgrade price I think they've ever launched a Windows OS. It's also got some sweet IT features. I'm sure IT professionals will hate the interface, but there are some flat out phenomenal IT features in it that make it almost foolproof in enterprise.

TC Weidner
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This is all due to one thing... branding. Microsoft should of just called this thing Windows RT, not Windows 8 and all this would be avoided. Windows RT is just their answer to apple/android/ etc, its no different, just a half ass mobile OS for mobile toys.
Calling it windows 8 was the big mistake as this is not the successor to windows 7.

My prediction, due to this branding error, you are looking at the "New Coke" of the tech world. This has failure written all over it.

warren blyth
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I kind of agree.
Except instead of predicting failure from all angles, I think WindowsRT might be a success story for tablets. I think there's a lot of interest in connecting tablets to TVs, and the surface/smartglass pitch seems to be right there smiling and waiting.

+ I'm curious if Windows 9 will be seen as a return to sanity, in the same way windows7 seemed to appease the developers who were furious about Vista.

Michael Rooney
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Windows 8 RT and Windows 8 are not the same thing. They share some compatibility, so it makes sense to refer to both similarly (Windows 8), but one has a more limited feature set (RT). Windows 8 is the successor to windows 7.

TC Weidner
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Michael,

Windows 8 is not the successor to 7, microsoft themselves have even admitted as much. The desktop in 8 is basically the same as in 7, just with more confusion and some more hoops to jump through.

TC Weidner
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warren-
the grand unified experiment of TV and computers and tablets will not happen until as a nation we upgrade greatly our bandwidth capabilities. TV is instant, our internet and so forth is not, until our internet is a quick as our tv there will be no unification IMHO.

Troy Walker
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they needed a way to segment the ARM only version of the OS from the Intel version.. hence the "RT".

no other reason... its' not a branding mistake, just look under the hood and understand that.

perhaps for some people they should have labled it "Windows 8 for the ARM based mobile platform in the year 2012 and not for Intel based software and hardware like grandma has."

but that would be a really long name and hard to print.

Trent Tait
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Microsoft are the kings of long winded mind boggling names.

Roger Tober
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I think this is all going to come down on Microsoft's head. I don't think Windows 8 will be popular. It's an awkward desktop UI. This will be a repeat of Vista, where people start requesting Windows 7 on their computer and sales go nowhere. Microsoft will rethink their position after losing a ton of money and design a desktop that looks like a desktop and leave an open platform.

Troy Walker
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not gonna happen... they've made a long term decission, and windows 8 is the first step to unifying their ecosystem.

still a long way to go though.

Alan Rimkeit
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He continues, "There's an underlying mindset, and that mindset is a feudalistic mindset -- there is a plantation that a company will set up and own, and developers will work there, and they will pay whatever the tithing or tribute is, and developers have to pay that."

"Microsoft didn't say [RT] is only going on phones. For all you know, the next set of desktops could be ARM-based processors. The next set of ultrabooks could be Windows RT. A whole slice of the Windows-based market could be Windows RT. There's nothing stopping that from happening."

Time to revolt? maybe an old fashion revolution? What would Microsoft do if even 40% of game devs moved over to Linux with Gabe and Steam? How about even 20%? At what point would Microsoft really start to sweat and cave in?

Casey Muratori
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At a minimum, I definitely think all game developers should just get in the habit of building for Linux, if they can. It doesn't take that long to put a platform layer in place. And we can certainly leverage each other's work by posting as much reference code as possible as we all work through the best ways to do things.

I suspect Valve will also help out here, since they will have a vested interested in people building cross-platform.

- Casey

Evan Combs
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I think a lot of people are missing the point of Windows 8. It is trying to bridge the gap between a laptop and a tablet. With Win8 you can sit down at a desk and use a traditional desktop environment that is still open. It is essentially Win7, with maybe a few upgrades. Then you can also use it as a tablet for the same things the average person uses their iPad or Kindle Fire. It is increasing the functionality of the OS not limiting the functionality. They have added on a tablet interface that is modeled after iOS, but they left the desktop open for anyone to publish for and to.

Maybe the confusion is coming from Windows RT. Windows RT is purely a tablet OS, and only a tablet OS. Windows 8 includes Windows RT but it is only RT.

Tyvon Thomas
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The fear stems the fact that we are all afraid that what Windows 8 is doing with their functionality (making the normal desktop environment a Second Option, rather than the Default) may cause them to eventually completely phase out the normal desktop environment we've adjusted to, and render many of our games and programs unusable in the coming age.

Similarly to how DOS support was slowly, but steadily phased out of Windows, Microsoft could easily choose to stop supporting the old desktop environment, and the OS could force all Windows-built PCs into a completely closed-off environment.

warren blyth
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From a UI design perspective, I think a desktop with folders files and windows makes sense to any any new user. It was an easy concept that you could pick uo quickly and forget about.

Metro seems to throw this paradigm away, and ask you to relearn how to use a computer based on no sensible real-world metaphor.

I think WindowsRT will be a cool tablet/phone UI, where mostly tech savvy people and pure consumers enjoy figuring out new paradigms. But people who actually want to create things with their PC (who want to forget about the windows concept and get to using software within it) are being slapped in the face by some hipster designers.

Charlie Helman
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"But people who actually want to create things with their PC (who want to forget about the windows concept and get to using software within it) are being slapped in the face by some hipster designers."

You're right. I totally prefer the terrible, tacky, visually offensive interfaces of yesteryear.

"From a UI design perspective, I think a desktop with folders files and windows makes sense to any any new user...Metro seems to throw this paradigm away, and ask you to relearn how to use a computer based on no sensible real-world metaphor. "

I'm not sure the change in structure is unapproachable, especially to normal (non-developer) consumers. In fact, I think it's quite the opposite; it's straightforward, intuitive, and very clean. My children will probably grow up without ever seeing a file cabinet full of folders, and I've seen a four year old pick up an iPhone for the first time and learn to navigate without any instruction.

Perhaps we're all just old farts shaking our canes at the next generation of operating systems meant for the next generation of users.

Darned whipper-snappers!

Eric Pobirs
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The idea that the next generation of desktops might be ARM-based is the most painfully dumb speculation I've seen anyone worry about in a long time. The difference in performance between ARM and x86 processors is immense. A typical cheap PC can emulate an Android device quite easily, as used for offering test rides of apps in the Amazon store. The reverse is not true though. Emulation of modern x86 on ARM is strictly in dancing bear territory. You're looking sub-single digit frame rates.

In a situation where battery is not a paramount isssue there is no compelling reason to use ARM for a desktop type system. The Archimedes isn't coming back. You might see something like a media player box and app runner ala Google TV but that has little bearing on PC gaming and the continuing availability of the environment.

Casey Muratori
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Who said anything about emulation? Since there already are - and will continue to be - many ARM ultrabooks, there's no reason people can't start shipping desktop boxes that run the same software; namely, the Windows RT ecosystem. While I have no idea how popular it will be, you can bet people will ship these. It's already starting:

http://www.techpowerup.com/168973/Tegra-Completes-its-Long-Walk-t
o-the-PC-Courtesy-Kontron.html

But I suspect it will be a few years before they are their own segment.

- Casey

Eric Cosky
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This is one of those problems that is easily fixable by Microsoft. Just allow people to select other stores that have no connection to Microsoft, Steam being the prime example, and restore the long standing ability of users to install whatever software they choose.

These are pretty basic rights any computer user should have anyway. The current situation is pretty much the same as not having admin access to your own computer and being forced to pay an additional 30% tax on everything you buy, both of which I believe should be illegal on any platform.

I tell my non-tech friends it is like buying a car with the engine hood locked and only the dealer can open it, and every time you buy gas you pay an extra 30% to the people who made your car. It's just not right.

Sure, there are benefits, and I am glad to have the access to the stores to help distribute the games I make. They provide a useful service to me and I'm actually OK with the arrangement right now. There is however a huge, fundamental and critical difference between the "option" and "requirement" to use these stores, and I do believe that I should have the ability to reach possible customers without getting approval of a single gatekeeper who charges me whatever they see fit if they choose to let me do it at all.

I will go out on a limb and say this might eventually reach a tipping point on par with the embedded browser conflicts we saw a while back and the public might demand some changes to allow for alternative stores and restoration of true admin rights. I can only hope, because I don't like where this is headed.

Casey Muratori
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Very well stated, Eric. These are my feelings exactly.

- Casey

Dave Ingram
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Adding the ability to install 3rd-party distro platforms is absolutely genius. Please tell Microsoft.

Michael Rooney
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The problem isn't stores, it's applications being able to download and run executable code. Once you allow that you introduce any number of holes for malware/etc.

A potential solution would be allowing licensed distributors, but that opens up a large amount of problems also, though significantly fewer than the former.

edit: Another potential solution would be content curators instead of distributors. Allow people to create storefronts that curate products that exist on Microsoft's store.

Still not an ideal solution.

Trent Tait
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"Adding the ability to install 3rd-party distro platforms is absolutely genius."

Pfft genius indeed.

Sorry, the ideal solution is to allow people to install non-store bought items, you know, the way we currently do.

Panagiotis Peikidis
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Personally, I don't see Microsoft going far with this.

If history is any indication, Microsoft will fail miserably because it thinks that the whole reason Apple succeed was for its closed platform (how cute). Google will see this as an opportunity and will create a new OS based on Linux which will be half-working, with features more towards geeks then consumers, but will ultimately fail to do anything because it was all just another side-project done by a small group of Google programmers. Almost at the same time, a company with a lot of money but completely unrelated to anything software related, will pure tons of it into a new, even more, user-friendly Linux distro, which will attract the Linux community and maybe 0.001% of the rest. Microsoft will finally see that it's loosing from every corner and does not have the resources to pull what Apple so easily does, and consider this whole thing, finally, a failure, moving as quickly as possible to the Windows 9. All this time, Apple continues to do what it does best and ignoring everybody around it. And sanity is restored.

Paulo Ferreira
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hahaha hilarious, and yet, so true!

james sadler
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Honestly I see hacks and whatnot being developed by ticked off developers and users who want "their" content the way they want it on the new UI. As a Windows Phone 7 users I've found this happening for awhile. One of the greater things about windows is how easy it is to do things Microsoft didn't want the user/developer to do. I'll be interested to try it out when I install it on a demo box next week.

Personally I like the Metro interface and was stoked to hear that MS would be using it for Windows 8. It takes some getting use to but I think users will love it. I debated getting an iPad for a long time because of how versatile they are, but then a friend bought a Series 7 Slate from Samsung, which is like an iPad but has a full blown Windows OS on it. When he installed the beta W8 it felt like what I've really been waiting for for years. There's rocky seas ahead, but I really don't see MS throwing away as much business as they're getting now to be that stingy. Legal wording and policies change often.

Zirani Jean-Sylvestre
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Stupid idea #427

Nawell should buy Transgaming and make the SDK works rock solid for linux and offer it for free to hobbyist and any developper selling on Steam.

Bruno Patatas
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"For all you know, the next set of desktops could be ARM-based processors."

Yep, and the whole visual effects, game development, etc, will work with ARM.
It's amazing to see people saying that desktop/laptops are going to end. Or they will be ARM based or replaced by tablets! What a bunch of nonsense.
In case some people didn't realized that yet, there are people who do more on their PC's than just watching Netflix and reading magazines. They do stuff like... work! 3D Computer graphics, animation, video editing... Can't wait for the day where I will use Maya on an iPad lol

Get real folks!

Oh, and btw, I have been using Windows 8 for quite a few months. It has a desktop, you know? I never use Metro, and for me is like if I was using Windows 7.

Casey Muratori
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Just for the record, Autodesk could compile and ship Maya (or any other 3D app) just fine on a modern Tegra. But I don't think that's particularly relevant to any of this, though, because the number of PC users who use high-end 3D software is extremely small (for example, Autodesk does about $800 million, compared to a total PC enterprise market of ~$300 _billion_.)

What is more relevant is the fact that normal productivity software, like Microsoft Office, clearly doesn't need anything remotely like today's fastest PCs. So why _wouldn't_ hardware vendors ship ARM devices? They're already shipping laptops with them, so all they have to do is stick that in a box, and they've got a small, cheap, quiet desktop. The only reason ARM devices haven't been prevalent in the PC space before was simply because Windows didn't run on them.

But it sure does now. And it comes with a free copy of Office Home, too.

- Casey

Alexander Florez
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I think some people are getting the idea that Windows 8 is trying to be like Macs... From what I'm seeing, it's trying to be like iPhones. Not even Apple completely locks down the user experience in OSX (unless Mountain Lion has a bunch of changes). I can still download and use all sorts of user created software, dualboot XP, use compatibility tools, and take advantage of administrator privileges through Terminal. I've never even bought software from the App Store, only downloaded Norton's free antivirus and Evernote. Microsoft is going to have huge problems with users jailbreaking their desktops like they do iPhones - I'm guess less than a month after the release. I'm still on XP, but considering 7 to take advantage of DirectX for the few games in my EXTENSIVE Steam library that require it. I'm not getting any OS that that doesn't let me use the software and games I already own.

Thomas Happ
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I am just sad about their apparent abandonment of XNA. I so wanted to simultaneously publish my game on both XBox and their Metro store thingie. :-(

k s
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Really they're abandoning it?

Troy Walker
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@k s

yes, it was quietly ramped out and they integrated DirectX into the Windows SDK, no more "directX" as a seperate distribution. eventhough it has not officially been stated as such, it seems pretty damn clear that this is what has happened (even many of the original team members in XNA have moved onto other things from my understanding).

they are (as of now) wanting C# developers to move to C++ for creating games.

will there be a replacement in the future for C# developers like XNA? doubtful, but we could be wishful... we still got Unity though.

Jed Hubic
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I feel like I live in the parallel universe where people are seemingly smart about almost everything thing but seemingly stupid and ignorant about specific things.

I've been using Windows 8 for months now. Steam works fine, desktop apps work fine, PC Games that I run standalone work fine. Some apps launch quicker too. To top it off I can also access games from the Windows store. As a developer this is something I like, a lot. Not to mention I've been able to port a game I'm working on to get up and running on WP7, WP8, Win8, and desktop, that is badass in my mind.

Don't people realize Notch sells Minecraft on the closed platform known as Xbox Live and Valve has products on the PS3? This is just business and people are unfortunate enough to be duped by these guys due to blind faith or something. CEOs don't like competitive business models.

I wish I can refind the article where the technical lead of Windows 8 said they have no interest in interfering with the desktop and specifically said they're happy to let Valve keep being Valve.

Why can't people get jacked for new opportunities or seek to understand new tech anymore before shitting all over it? MS is giving us devs lots of opportunity and users as well (even simple javascript games run quite well). A lot of stuff people bitch about in the game industry they cause themselves. Jesus Christ.

Harlan Sumgui
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so your point is: I'm ok with it and everyone else who sees potential problems is stupid and ignorant cuz the guy at Microsoft said everything is going to be peachy. genius.

Casey Muratori
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Jed: no one is "shitting all over" the _tech_ of Windows 8. Or rather, Gabe, Notch, and myself aren't (there are plenty of Apple people and other folks who are, but that's a separate discussion). What we're "shitting all over" are the _policies_ that Microsoft is adopting.

I _want_ to use the new Windows 8 UI on touch laptops and touch-monitor desktops. What I don't want is to have that new UI limited to only the software that Microsoft approves. I want to have Steam on the new UI, and I want to be able to buy games on Steam that run in the new touch interface. I want them to be able to use live tiles to tell me when my friends are playing. I want to be able to share replays and screenshots with my friends using the Share charm. I want to be able to see notifications on the lock screen like, "Jed Hubic has invited you to play a game of name-calling", so I know that I have an invite without even having to log in to my computer.

I would _like_ to use all this new tech in Windows 8 (the new "Windows Run Time", as they call it). What I'm "shitting all over" is precisely the fact that I _can't_, because Microsoft prohibits it. They only want me to run Steam in the desktop compatibility area of Windows 8. And they won't let me run Steam _at all_ on Windows RT. Or Origin. Or the Amazon Store.

As for Minecraft running on closed platforms, what does that have to do with it? Do you think that Notch _wouldn't_ want iOS and XBox to become open platforms? _Of course he would_. That's why he's so upset about Windows 8 - he doesn't want to see the last open (commercial) platform become closed. Read what he wrote for yourself:

http://notch.tumblr.com/post/32726020631/john-callaham-dont-be-a-
goat-murderer

- Casey

Jed Hubic
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Casey, this is exactly my point. Microsoft's writing has been on the wall from day one, and they don't intend to close anything off in the pc world, nothing has changed. They want to regulate their own store of course and the Steam on Win8 metro style I'm not sure about that due to tech limitations and I don't think Valve has expressed anything along those lines. This is an arm based limitation and in terms of getting steam games on the app store, that's a larger conversation.

Android is an "open" platform and many I know have a hard time monetizing it. So I find this all perplexing, people kind of want it either way an MS gave that compromise. The Win8 store is an MS product the desktop is the free for all, take your pick. I'm not trying to sound rude to anyone but still this confuses me.

Casey Muratori
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I'm not sure I understand what you mean by,

"They want to regulate their own store of course and the Steam on Win8 metro style I'm not sure about that due to tech limitations and I don't think Valve has expressed anything along those lines. This is an arm based limitation and in terms of getting steam games on the app store, that's a larger conversation."

We are not talking about just ARM. We are talking about x86 as well. On x86, Steam cannot use the new Windows 8 UI. It is forbidden by Microsoft, both physically (in terms of how binaries are signed and executed) and legally (in terms of the developer license agreements). Windows RT being completely locked is also very bad, in my opinion, but we don't even need to go there to talk about the real problems apps that ship _today_ face with a closed Windows 8.

So when you say, "they want to regulate their own store", well, I don't have a problem with that. I have a problem with them regulating _other people's stores_, which is what they're doing. I don't think Microsoft should have any say whatsoever in what Steam can do on Windows. If, as a customer, I choose to install that, or Origin, or any other store, it should be able to call 100% of the APIs the Windows Store can call. If it can't, that is a problem for me as both a developer _and_ a customer, and I fully intend to "shit all over" Windows 8, to use the phrase from your original post, to the fullest and stinkiest extent possible :)

- Casey

Jed Hubic
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Casey, x86 apps get the desktop treatment. Metro is arm only. You can still pin shortcuts to the start screen. Steam can make their service look just like Win8 Metro if they want. This is beyond making sense anymore. So you want Microsoft to enforce their UI on Steam then? Dude this is all semantics now, I'm stepping out of this conversation. Baffled.

Casey Muratori
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Jed: I'm sorry if this is baffling - I'm not sure why you are confused about what I'm saying. Here's the best I can do:

1) Windows 8 has a new UI. It has a bunch of stuff that _cannot be emulated_ by an app you install, such as the lock screen, edge-swipe task switching, and the charms bar. Steam _can't_ do these things, because they are enforced overlays that the OS does that apps cannot control, desktop or otherwise.

2) Apps need to integrate with the new UI if they want to use the features found there, such as lock screen notifications, Sharing, extended search, etc.

3) Apps are _only allowed to integrate with the new UI_ if they come from the Windows Store.

4) Steam is prohibited from being in the Windows Store, because it does not pass certification requirement 3.9 which bans any execution of downloadable content (ie., you cannot sell a app store in the Windows Store).

Does that make sense well enough?

So Steam _literally cannot use the Windows 8 UI_. It's prohibited from doing so by Microsoft. Similarly, no app that Steam sells can use the Windows 8 UI, because only apps that come from the Windows Store can do that.

- Casey

Michael Rooney
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@Casey: Iirc Steam could release a lightweight metro app and have the desktop client talk to it via protocols or some such to trigger those UI updates. Either that or it could just listen for communication from steam's servers. Steam itself would be able to send toast notifications as well.

Casey Muratori
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Michael: The non-server technique you describe is expressly prohibited by certification requirement 3.1:

"3.1 You must use only the Windows Runtime APIs to implement the features of your Windows Store app

We describe these APIs in the Windows Store apps API reference. Your app may only depend on software listed in the Windows Store.

Windows Store apps must not communicate with local desktop applications or services via local mechanisms, including via files and registry keys."

As for using the server, I'm not sure if that is prohibited or not.

- Casey

Michael Rooney
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I figured "Local Mechanisms" wouldn't include setting up a local server or similar. I've heard of people using REST APIs to get them to communicate with each other. I know it's technically possible to do though.

I guess it comes down to what they consider 'local mechanisms'. I can understand not wanting people to communicate via the registry/files, but if they're going to lock down local servers too that would be unfortunate.

Troy Walker
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@Casey

local mechanisms such as files/registry is more than likely due to limits placed on them for local storage (limited only to the app, no other)... and is destroyed if you remove the app... kinda like Steam does when you uninstall it...

the extent of the Windows Runtime is pretty deep, and if Valve is unable to make a "metro" app that utilizes it to address those communication abilities you want, then they got a whole-lot-a lazy.

Steam was (in my opinion) a pig... It had to run to get updates for your games. It had to run to get messages from your buddies. It had to run to launch your game (online or offline). It had to store all of Its' games in It's own directory structure. It can still do all of these things in desktop mode. and you can launch it from the Start menu (ok the "metro UI" as it has been called).. just like any other desktop app.

think of the new "metro UI" as a big fat Start button.. except it scrolls, and it disappears when you start a program.

as for 3.9, it does not permit installing something remotely that runs a script that changes the context of the "current" package.. e.g.: itself (which i can understand Valve not liking, cause steam does that crap all the time).

Ben Adams
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Casey, its more complicated. To go in the Windows 8 store and use the new Windows 8 UI you need to ship 3 compilations of your app (ARM, x64, x32) - it _must_ work on all three platforms; you need to provide descriptions promotional images etc. I imagine they don't want broken apps and app that will make there store look bad, it makes complete sense.

End users downloading an item from MS's store will assume approval and curation by MS of the platform. If it was a free for all and people could launch viruses into the store people wouldn't complain about the developer they would complain about MS allowing it.

The at "your own risk" desktop is still open.

Casey Muratori
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Troy - Just wanted to reply to some a few things here:

"if Valve is unable to make a "metro" app that utilizes it to address those communication abilities you want, then they got a whole-lot-a lazy."

That's not what Valve is complaining about. They're complaining about not being able to make _Steam itself_ be a Metro app. Hopefully you can understand why Valve does not want the end-user experience for Steam to be, "Go to the Windows Store. Pick Steam. Download it. Make a tile for it. Now go to the Desktop. Open a web browser. Go to steampowered.com. Download Steam for Desktop. Install it." Right? We are talking about the ability of companies to make products that run nicely with Windows 8. Microsoft is basically saying they will be the only ones allowed to make a seamless store, and anyone else simply isn't allowed to compete on a fair field. It's a hundredfold worse than the browser situation they got DOJ'd by back in the 90s.

"It can still do all of these things in desktop mode. and you can launch it from the Start menu (ok the 'metro UI' as it has been called).. just like any other desktop app."

But why should everyone _but_ Microsoft's apps have to run in this other bastardized system? The desktop is not a first-class citizen in Windows 8. Apps that run on the desktop can't be part of Share, they can't be part of Extended Search, they can't use Lock Screen notifications, they can't use Live Tiles... Metro is not, as you called it, "a big fat Start button". That's just one part of Metro, which is the new launcher. There's a _ton_ of other stuff in Metro, and apps (and games) will want to use it, and because of Microsoft's policies, the only way they can is if they are approved by Microsoft and come through the Microsoft Store.

"as for 3.9, it does not permit installing something remotely that runs a script that changes the context of the "current" package.. e.g.: itself"

No, it permits downloading and running any executable or script _whatsoever_. It says this very explicitly right in the text. This is what prohibits people from making competing app stores to the Windows store - since no app can _itself_ download and install apps, that keeps the WIndows Store being the only thing that can, which is Microsoft's intention.

- Casey

Casey Muratori
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Ben - Regarding this:

"To go in the Windows 8 store and use the new Windows 8 UI you need to ship 3 compilations of your app (ARM, x64, x32) - it _must_ work on all three platforms;"

That is incorrect. You can choose to include or not include ARM in your package, etc. In fact, if you look at the certification requirements, you will see that there are specific additional requirements that take effect only if you do / do not include ARM, etc.

"End users downloading an item from MS's store will assume approval and curation by MS of the platform. If it was a free for all and people could launch viruses into the store people wouldn't complain about the developer they would complain about MS allowing it."

But who's talking about apps coming from the Windows Store? We're talking about _being able to use Metro at all_. That's the issue here. Nobody cares whether Microsoft lays down its own rules for its own store. Go right ahead! The _problem_ with Windows 8 is that people can't _not_ use that store. You can't release metro apps on the web, etc.

The desktop is _not_ an alternative to this. Customers should have the right to use other stores, or get programs via the web, just like they do today.

(And I should point out, I have this same objection about iOS - although oddly enough, Apple did not follow the closed policy when it made the Mac App Store, which ironically makes Apple's OS _more open_ than Windows 8, which is a pretty big reversal in terms of who has been more open over the history of the PC in general).

- Casey

Randy Angle
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No worries here about Windows 8 - happy to have it installed and running on my computers and planning projects for it already. It is new, it is different, accept change. I agree with Jed Hubic - articles like this are over hyping a problem that doesn't exist.

Casey Muratori
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When you say "hyping a problem that doesn't exist", can you be more specific? To which problem are you referring, and on what grounds are you arguing that it does not exist?

Hopefully, we can all agree that with Windows 8, games can't use the new Windows UI if they aren't approved by Microsoft. That is very cut-and-dry, and nobody is disputing that, including Microsoft. So do you not consider that a problem? Are you saying that you are happy about Microsoft having control over what software is available for the new UI? And are you saying that people who aren't OK with this are upset about literally nothing (a problem that "doesn't exist")?

- Casey

Jed Hubic
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Casey, that is Microsofts own store and service like Steam. There's also a lot more to getting a game on the Store than just making it so on a technical level. It's no different than Steam picking and choosing who get to use their platform and who can take advantage of Steam features. MS are allowing competition to continue. I'm not sure exactly what you're arguing anymore.

It's like complaining that Target doesn't allow Walmart to set up stores in their store. I don't think I still get the issue some people have, issues just to have issues...

Casey Muratori
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Jed: It is very different. There are two levels here.

An operating system _is not a store_. An operating system is like a city. A user chooses to reside there, and then they can shop in the stores it has in it. I, for one, would not want to live in a city that only had one store, for reasons that I hope would be obvious to anyone. But that's what Windows 8's new UI (and iOS, for that matter - which is why I don't use an iPhone) is.

I want to be able to have a _variety_ of choices about where I get my software. I don't want to have to buy it all through Microsoft (or Apple, or anyone else). I _like_ the way I can install Steam right now, and I can use it to buy software that can integrate with Windows 7 to the fullest extent possible. I _don't_ like the fact that with Windows 8, if I buy something through Steam, it _cannot_ integrate with the whole OS. It can only integrate with its desktop compatibility mode.

Furthermore, I wouldn't want Steam to be the only store. I want to be able to install Origin, and get my games from that if I so choose. And yes, I'm totally fine if Microsoft _also_ has a store. I just don't want them to make it _the only store_ for one whole half of the new OS.

- Casey

John Tynes
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I'm not exactly sure what this means:

"- That currently, to anyone’s knowledge, there's no rolling launcher that can take you seamlessly back and forth between the new UI and the old desktop interface. If there isn’t, then it inhibits PC games from being able to seamlessly launch games from the new UI in a couch-TV setting. This locks up that experience for the Xbox content that is featured on the new Windows 8 UI."

But you can pin any desktop app to your Windows 8 Start screen. It won't have the dynamic Live Tile functionality but you can pin it, rearrange it, and launch it from there just as easily as a Windows 8 app. The Start screen will launch any executable on your hard drive if you pin it there. (This is assuming Windows 8, not Windows RT.)

Casey Muratori
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I am not sure what that means either. It would be nice to have an explanation, since it doesn't seem like an actual problem, and even if it were, it seems like a very minor one compared to the other significant problems already at issue...

- Casey

Troy Walker
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in the testing i've done so far.. it automatically pins the software i install via desktop.. i actualy have to remove it from the start screen if i dont' want to see it there.

Kyle Redd
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Does anyone who is familiar with the current state of Linux know what it would realistically take to bring it to Windows-like functionality and appeal? From what I understand, the current biggest issues with Linux are instability, fragmentation, and ease of use for newcomers. So how much and how long would it take to mitigate these problems enough to make Linux a serious alternative to Windows? Does a company like Valve have all the necessary resources?

Jed Hubic
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Different kernels. If valve can make other companies directX games magically run on Linux that would be groundbreaking, at the risk of sounding ignorant, I think it comes down to a company wanting to make their game Linux compatible or not. Valve would just swoop in and look like the hero by having a platform.

Evan Combs
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I have one suggestion. Stop looking at it as Linux, and start looking at it as Ubuntu, Red Hat, etc. I think Ubuntu is getting close, but they still have a little ways to go.

Maria Jayne
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This is perhaps a dumb question, is there anything coming out in the next few years that is windows 8 exclusive?

The reason I ask is it seems everyone is dreading this new OS like it's a required purchase. I used Win XP through the whole of Vista and skipped all the problems it had. I have no intention of buying Win 8 but what stops both vendors and users just staying on Win 7?

It sounds like a voluntary purchase has become mandatory, if you believe that, why? what are you missing out on?

Casey Muratori
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Maria: It depends on what you mean by "exclusive". If you are asking whether there will be games for Windows 8 that won't run on Windows 7, then yes, in fact there will be Windows 8 exclusive games almost immediately. Skulls of the Shogun is one example:

http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2012/06/12/no-7-samurai-skulls-of
-the-shogun-goes-win-8-only/

I have not been following that part of the issue closely, however, so I'm not sure how many of these "no Windows 7" games are in the pipeline, or how much Microsoft had to do with them.

- Casey

Gryff David
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That was my feeling too. If Microsoft limits game development for Windows 8, surely developers will stick it out and wait for a better OS? Windows 7 will continue to be supported by Microsoft right up until 2020, thereby allowing developers to still develop games for an open platform.

I too skipped Vista entirely. I'm still using Windows XP, although I'll be moving up to 7 within the next week or so to take advantage of the x64 architecture, but my computer still runs the latest games just perfectly even though it's running an OS that is more than a decade old. According to data from August last year, XP still holds the majority share of web browsing. Even above its big brother Windows 7. As far as I see it, developers won't be forced into a closed platform any time soon.

Maria Jayne
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@ Guerric/Casey/Gryff

Ok thanks for the replies, I tend to believe we really can't convince big business it's doing a bad thing with words, we can only show them when they try to make a sale.

I think Microsoft are going to try their restrictions and people will hate it, then Win 9 will be a return to open user experience and it will look like they are "listening" to the fans and be rolling in the money again.

If by Win 9 things have not improved I'm sure another OS will have happily stepped in to gather up all the customers, Google perhaps, I don't know, but I know there are enough people out there who value what the PC is now, to refuse to just roll over and live in a walled garden.

As has been the case for a long time now, Microsoft are the only ones who can lose, they have so much of the business already that regardless of what they do, they can only drive people away with change. So let them, let them make their mistake and then maybe they will remember how it feels to not be the only OS people use.

Terry Matthes
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This might have already been said but.... In my opinion PC gamers are usually a tech savy bunch and if Valve gives a linux option with good support than I can see a lot of people switching.

Jonathan Murphy
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I was talking to a random person at a store. He was buying Windows 8. I warned him it'll be hard to learn, and he may even call tech support to turn off his PC. The reply was both interesting and disturbing, "It's the newest version. Even if it's hard to learn it's better than Windows 7."

Kyle Redd
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This response was definitely on Microsoft's mind when the came up with the name. People who don't follow tech news closely will instinctively believe 8 is better simply because it comes after 7.

Jed Hubic
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Why did you tell him it'll be hard to learn? Did he look too stupid to spend a day learning something? So you would rather tell someone how hard something is than give them advice on how to do it (power off)? Disturbing that he would want to try Microsoft's latest incarnation of Windows? I assume you've used Windows 8 a fair bit as well then, otherwise hear say fighting hear say makes us all stupid. I don't know what's in the air but this whole mentality I find sickening. My opinion of course.

Jonathan Murphy
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He was replacing a PC infested with viruses because he didn't know how to reformat his HDD. I offered him help. Instead he opted to buy an entirely new PC with Win8. So yeah he was an idiot.

Update:
He came back into the store and returned the PC and bought and I-pad. Sigh...

Nuno Sousa
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(a new contender enters the fray)

I spent the better part of the last hour and a half reading through these comments as pretty everyone but one or two people had such good opinions and so well-fundamented, I just felt like entering the discussion and try to add in a few things people haven't mentioned. Keep in mind this is coming from an avid (not "hardcore" gamer) and a aspiring game developer (i.e. not programmer) who's been messing around with PCs since early teens.

First off, I want to make a really bold (and stupid) statement: The open-ness (not a real word I know, cut me some slack, I'm trying to make a point) of the PC platform is, and has been, what has driven the gaming industry forward almost since it's birth and to lock everyone out of that same open-ness right now, would pretty much kill a part of that innovation. Let me make my point clearer: a lot of people agree that AAA videogame development has grown stale and stifling to creativity and that is a reason why for the past few years we've seen a boom when it comes to Indie Developers rising up and filling up the gaps that the said AAA market is leaving on gamers. Where did most of that boom come from? PC. Why did it come from the PC? Because it is an open platform in which users can create content for other users with little to no restrictions and the said content can be freely shared across the said platform with no problems. With Windows 8, what we are actually seeing is Microsoft trying to Xbox the world of PC gaming, forcing it do adhere to its rules and principles, because to be quite honest, Microsoft doesn't like competiton and will fight as dirty as it can to gain the upper hand. Remember that we are talking about the company who only allowed Super Meat Boy to be published by prohibiting Team Meat of porting it to PS3 and Wii. And we are also talking about the same company that openly bribes developers/publishers for exclusivity only to get ahead of the competition, not caring about the millions of other gamers that get screwed in the way.
Why am I bringing these antics up? Because I fear Microsoft will do the same to coax people into upgrade to Windows 8, to stop the whole Windows Vista fiasco to happen again. We're already seeing glimpses of it with the launch of Windows Store only games (that therefore only work on Windows 8) and I fear that it may get worse, and this is also why Gabe Newell was so vocal about Windows 8.
From a developer standpoint, I can't say for sure how grave the consequences can be, however the fact that you are creating a split in what has been for many, many years an unified OS experience... it can't be good.

(I'm done with the gamer/game developer standpoint, so now I'm moving into the user experince)

To be quite honest, I find the Windows 8 experiene to be a chore, rather than a pleasant walk-through-the-park experience it's been for the past number of years. Someone has mentioned that Windows 8 is made in a way that you might even have to consult the help to turn off the computer. This is ridiculous and preposterous, but you know what? It's kind of true. I have used Windows 8 (both in RC and the final version) so I feel I have a good grip on the new OS, and I consider myself to be a very tech-savvy person. And you know what? It happened to me more than once to have to press the off button in my computer because I couldn't remember where they had put the shut off/restart option of the OS. I'm not even kidding. And to go on even more off on a small tangent, I feel the whole Metro UI experince on tablets might be cool, but on a PC with an actual mouse, it detracts from the experience of using a computer. I feel it has terrible design flaws (like the one I just mentioned) and won't stick around for long on desktops - hopefully. And this is not even going into how bad the Windows experience becomes on a netbook.

On the whole "alternative OS" debate front, I just have to say... there isn't any viable alternative at the moment. I'm sorry Linux Enthusiasts but the flagship Linux distro (Ubuntu) has been getting consistently worse ever since they embraced the Unity thing. It has become an arrogant, bloated distro that threw away the best part of itself: it's simplicity and useability. I remember when I could run Ubuntu on any computer no problem, now I can't even run it on my netbook with it lagging the hell out. And please don't come to me with "you can always download Xubuntu with alternative desktop window managers", because yeah I could, but when you creating fragmentation within your own distro on an already fragmented landscape, you're doing something wrong.
The sad part is that this leaves OSx as the most viable alternative to Windows closing itself... and I don't even want to imagine to reprecussions of OSx becoming a alternative.

All in all, Windows 7 was, and still is, the best desktop OS ever made. It's stable, it's relatively open and works like a charm with no problems and has high degree of compatibility with older software and even drivers! (I remember when 7 came out that Windows XP drivers worked on it of all things!) Windows 8 is an all around mistake, and a no-win situation for all the parties involved: either Microsoft takes a heavy blow and has to regroup AGAIN, or gamers start slowly losing all their freedom of choice for a really silly design decision.

(this is my first comment, please don't be too harsh on me)

Alex Boccia
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I used windows 8 on my laptop for a few months of school last year and it seemed to run fine and all. I had no problem shutting it off, either. Windows 7 is back on it now though, one thing that's nice about Microsoft is they don't force you to change, and I'm simply not ready for change yet.

Ben Adams
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I'm very happy about game devs being reticent about Windows 8 - more audience for me :-)

Bob Johnson
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Make Linux a great gaming OS. What I mean by that is simplify the UI enough to you are essentially just looking at your STeam client when you boot up and that's it. To help spearhead its adoption include support for the other big gaming fish like Blizzard and EA (unfortunately for one reason Battlefield 3.)

You do this first because in the meantime Windows 7 can be run in virtualization with a program like Virtual Box which is free. That will give us access to Win7 features. And allow Valve to release a product that works out of the gate and works well as soon as possible while allowing them time to ween us off of Windows 7 with future releases of their LInux distribution.

Arnaud Clermonté
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Microsoft will back down only when they are forced to by competition.

I'm pretty sure Linux won't be that "ultimate OS" that will provide such serious competition.
Prophecies of Linux popularity are just like prophecies of apocalypse: There's one every year since 1999, yet it never happens.
And we keep being told "Yeah but this year it's different because they're ironing this and that as we speak".

Google and Apple are more likely to provide the competition needed.

Gregory Booth
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Yeah but Linux is already lightyears ahead of WinXP, Win7 and Win8 in every single category including usability, raw power and application availability, of course.

It is simply the only OS to use for anyone with at least 3 functional cognitive neurons.

That's why it currently dominates the OS market in PC gaming, right? No, wait... nvm.


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