Archives for: "July 2012"

Windows 8 - the worst article ever

An article written by Johanna Armstrong on Piki Geek has taken the crown as the most inaccurate Windows 8 article I've seen to date. I won't be linking to it, you can find it easily enough by searching for it, but I refuse to assist their search rankings.

The PC Master Race is facing a threat from Microsoft, a threat that both Valve's Gabe Newell and Blizzard’s Rob Pardo have spoken out against. The threat is Windows 8.

Nice way to start an article. As someone who a lot of people would regard as being part of the "PC Master Race", I like Windows 8.

Newell explained that he was trying to make Steam and Valve's games compatible with Linux, as a way to make alternatives in case Windows 8 becomes a reality.

Windows 8 is reality. RTM is imminent. Valve releasing Steam for Linux is a low-cost option for cornering another market. Porting the Source engine - almost 10 years old, no big deal.

The article then goes on to quote Michael Mace, former executive at Apple and Palm. An impartial source? Not likely, especially since Windows Mobile buried Palm, and Windows buried the Macintosh.

From a user perspective, Microsoft Windows is being killed this fall and replaced by an entirely new OS that has a Windows 7 emulator tacked onto it…

Windows 8 is still Windows NT. It certainly doesn't use an emulator to run Windows 7 applications, they run natively just like they've done in the past, such a suggestion is absurd.

Johanna goes on to say "Windows 8 uses an interface known as 'Metro', which turns everything into an app." errr, what does that even mean? Everything a computer runs is an application or program of some sort and always has been. Windows 8 has metro-style applications in addition to traditional ones, and it has a metro-styled Start Screen, which replaces the Start Menu. Turns everything into an app? What do you think Steam, Office, Civ 4 are anyway? They're apps.

This means that programs like Steam won't be able to run on Windows 8 without turning itself into a Metro-friendly application. Furthermore, all of the applications will be full-screen, although you can adjust them to 1/3rd or 2/3rd of the screen, which isn't really an improvement—forget about moving a window out of the way to view another, and forget about the Start button: there isn't one, not even on the desktop. And for those of you with battle stations: Windows 8 doesn't currently support multi-monitors, so forget about playing a game on one screen while browsing online on the other. One screen has to be devoted to Metro at all times.

Windows 8 running on multiple monitors with Steam

The above screenshot shows Windows 8, running on multiple monitors with the Metro-style Messenging application open down the right-side of the left monitor, Outlook 2013 open on the right monitor, and Steam running on the left monitor, a window, not fullscreen. I could also cover it up with other applications if I so choose, just like always.

Sorry, what were you saying about not supporting multiple monitors? What were you saying about Steam having to be metro? All false, do some research.

In short, the primary issue with Windows 8 is that it's not designed for PCs. It's meant to be used with tablets, and then only Windows 8 compatible tablets

Really? Works fine here on all my PCs. Plus I get all the new power-user features that Windows 8 sports, like 2-click opening of Device Manager, admin-elevated Command Prompt, loads of other admin-style tools, much faster performance (great for games), overhauled File Explorer which can pause file transfers (sweet). Better battery life, much faster boot, better multi-monitor support, I can even have the Task Bar on both screens now, and set it to show all open apps, or just the ones on the specific screen its on (nice). I use the desktop, just like I always have and move into metro when there's a metro-application I want to use.

Imagine, then, being a developer like Valve or EA that have programs like Steam or Origin, trying to decide whether they should invest the time and money into figuring out how to get their program to work with what is essentially a mentally disabled iPad in a PC's body

Errr they don't need to do any work. They already work just fine. Windows 8 is backwards compatible, just like every other version of Windows. :-)

I don't even know where to start with the comparison to a mentally disabled iPad.

Gabe Newell and Windows 8

There's been a lot of silliness spreading across the internet over the last few days regarding Windows 8. Much of it written by people who a) haven't used Windows 8 and b) haven't bothered to do any research.

The latest flurry of criticism started when Valve boss Gabe Newell said Windows 8 would be a "catastrophe for everyone in the PC space". Notice he said for everyone in the PC space, not calling Windows 8 a catastrophe itself - how it was misreported around the internet echo chamber.

Valve: Windows 8 a 'catastrophe' - BBC
Valve's Gabe Newell calls Windows 8 "a catastrophe" - Tech Digest
Gabe Newell: "Windows 8 Is Kind of a Catastrophe" - IGN
Gabe Newell Predicts: "Windows 8 is a Catastrophe" - Gamespy

All of which slant it in such a manner to say Windows 8 is rubbish. When that's not quite what Gabe was saying at all.

He went onto say "I think we'll lose some of the top-tier PC OEMs, who will exit the market. I think margins will be destroyed for a bunch of people." Margins were destroyed by PC manufacturers racing to the bottom, squeezing every last cent out of a machine to get sales volume, all while sacrificing quality. There's a reason real PC gamers build their own systems, to avoid cheap low-end components and to avoid all the bloatware that OEMs have traditionally installed on their machines, in many cases reducing modern hardware to a crawl. Secondly even the largest OEM announced they would be leaving the PC space - before Windows 8 was announced. If Hewlett Packard, the world's largest PC manufacturer thinks about leaving - they shortly after announced they wouldn't exit the business - what chance do some smaller OEMs have? Not exactly prophetic vision by Gabe there.

PC makers would be going out of business with or without Windows 8. In my opinion they've got a much better chance of staying in business with Windows 8. Margins are reduced due to competition between each other, and Apple, not so much due to the Macintosh, whose sales fell below forecasts in the last quarter but because of tablets. Within a year or two, we could be in a situation where most personal computers sold are tablets. That's a trend many have been predicting, including Microsoft back in 2002, but now few would doubt that we're on the verge of a new shift in computing. The Windows desktop is fine on tablets for power-users, I've used it on tablets for over eight years, but it can't be considered a touch-first interface - something new was required.

What is Microsoft's response? To try and keep themselves in business by building Windows 8, either that or iOS (you won't be porting Steam to that now Gabe) and Android will run off with the tablet market. A half-hearted approach wouldn't work - they've tried that before, so Microsoft went all in.

What's Gabe's real motive? His own product Steam - the market leader in selling downloadable games on the PC, is at risk from Microsoft's new online distribution platform, the Windows Store. It's like Xbox Live Marketplace meets the App Store. Built into Windows 8, its where you'll be able to buy metro-style applications for Windows 8. When he's talking margins, is he talking Steam?

Of course Gabe Newell is open to lots of criticism himself, for years Steam was loathed by PC gamers, yet it was forcibly pushed upon users through Valve's own games which required it, EA are now pulling the same move by forcing Origin on us. It was always promised that digital distribution would make games cheaper for gamers. Is that true? Not when you compare the prices on Steam to online retailers selling boxed products, heck even High Street retailers are often cheaper. Games stay at their RRP on Steam far longer than other retailers. Sure that might keep Gabe's margins nice and wide, but what about good value for gamers?

After a decade, Steam is firmly established we don't see many games from Valve anymore. Remember the much delayed Half-Life 2? After Valve shipped it, they proudly said there would be no more five year waits between games, they were going to deliver episodic content. Episode 1 followed fairly shortly, Episode 2 however came in 2007, 3 years after the release of Half-Life 2. Frequent episodic content? Not exactly. The Half-Life 2 story-line remains unfinished to this day, with Valve seemingly uninterested in wrapping it up.

What happened to you Valve? You used to be cool.

You used to make quality games like Half-Life (the first one), and well you brought the Team Fortress guys. So err, but I suppose we could count TFC. Now what do you do? Sell other people's stuff, you're just a retailer out to defend their store from Microsoft's new store. Transparent Gabe, transparent.