Windows 8 is Not a Catastrophe, Companies are Just Threatened
Windows 8 is a revolution; companies like Valve are just afraid of the change.
Over the past few weeks there has been a story developing about Windows 8, the next version of Microsoft’s operating system, and it being a “catastrophe”. Windows 8 is the first time in over a decade Microsoft is making major visual changes to the OS, and introducing an app store similar to Apple and Google. Gabe Newell from Valve had the following to say about Windows 8:
“We want to make it as easy as possible for the 2,500 games on Steam to run on Linux as well. It’s a hedging strategy. I think Windows 8 is a catastrophe for everyone in the PC space. 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. If that’s true, then it will be good to have alternatives to hedge against that eventuality.”
Windows 8 is undeniably not a catastrophe, and I am puzzled why the comment was even made. The main problem I have with the original comment made by Gabe, is that he doesn’t even declare why he thinks Windows 8 will upset everybody who uses it. Is it the touch screen focus? How about the app store? He essentially states that Windows 8 is bad, because he says so. If you are going to call out Microsoft and say what they are developing is dreadful, you really need to voice why.
Valve is just afraid of the Windows 8 Market Place taking some of their transactions.
In my eyes, it seems that Windows 8 poses a threat towards Steam. With the introduction of the app store into Windows 8, it can potentially hurt Steam due to the way the new core of the OS is being developed. Microsoft has already detailed the future of their phone market with Windows Phone 8, and the core between the mobile OS and desktop/tablet OS are identical. It is very likely that the Next Xbox will be running this matching core as well. This is huge for developers that make apps and games on the Windows platform. Indie developers that could have put their software on Steam as their main source of exposure could end up putting their software on the Windows Market place in conjunction with Steam.
It is no secret that a majority of Steam users are Windows users, and the Windows operating system has a massive hold on the desktop OS market with over 80% market share. Windows has never had any kind of app store when it comes to the desktop and laptop space. Opening up a new app store to literally millions of people, opens a whole new market for developers. Suddenly Microsoft’s offering for digital content looks much better to developers than others. Being able to easily port software between 3 different platforms is very nice.
The comment from Gabe also states that somehow Windows 8 will force some of the biggest OEM’s to disappear. The world’s biggest computer manufacture HP, has even stated that they will be making new products that will cater to the new design of Windows 8. HP made this comment even after Microsoft announced their own Tablet known as Surface. Many people thought that this would make OEM’s upset, and discourage them from making new hardware. Windows has never been a tablet friendly OS, and Windows 8 opens a plethora of new doors for manufacturers to create exciting new products.
Another reason this comment puzzles me is the fact that Steam will work flawlessly on Windows 8. There are definitely things different about Windows 8, and if you have been using Windows for years you might find yourself lost at first. I have been using Windows 8 as my main OS for months now, and I can say with certainty that I prefer it over Windows 7. The biggest difference I notice is just how fast Windows 8 truly is. Not only does the new OS boot insanely fast if you have a HDD or an SSD, regular browsing and loading of programs and apps is faster than I can react. Waiting for programs to open is a thing of the past. I even installed Steam on Windows 8 and loaded some of my games, most notably Left for Dead 2, and it performed even better than on Windows 7. It was only a difference of a few frames a second, but the point is that it performed better on an OS that isn’t even on store shelves yet. The drivers that are available for the current Consumer Preview of Windows 8 haven’t even matured yet, and already I can see better performance.
Other companies have jumped on the bandwagon like Blizzard and the developer of the Day Z mod Dean Hall, and have stated that Windows 8 concerns are legitimate. Once again, both companies failed to say why exactly they think Microsoft has gone in the wrong direction. Dean Hall said the following:
“It feels too early to say for most of us I think. It’s definitely a concern, there are some worrying statements that make you wonder whether the intention is to try and emulate what their competitors are doing, or drive their own space through innovation. My preference is always for the latter.”
From that statement, it sounds like these companies are afraid of Windows becoming a closed platform similar to the IOS platform from Apple. The issue with that is Windows 8 is still an extremely open platform. Microsoft is not taking away support of developers. Consumers can still go and buy software from a store and install it from a disc. There is nothing restricting innovation in Windows 8.
The comments that companies like Valve and Blizzard are making are very dense. Neither company presented facts to back up their claims. Simply stating that Windows 8 is bad without going into detail just shows that they are threatened by Microsoft. Instead of pointing fingers at companies that are trying to innovate, developers should use the new software to develop new and exciting things for consumers.