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back to article Windows 8: Never mind Office, it's for GAMING

Despite threats to its software hegemony from Apple and others, Microsoft's stranglehold on enterprise IT has been its saving grace. Yet this advantage has started to fade as Apple and Android increasingly invade the enterprise through smartphone adoption, with IT departments scrambling to devise security policies that plug the …

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JDX
Gold badge

Newell

Is just sour grapes that it might hurt his sales.

It's a good point that for gamers, W8 might be just fine. I wonder if the new XBox will be based in some way on W8... like a Mac have a standard PC with a fixed hardware spec so developers know exactly what to target.

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Meh

Re: Newell

The XBox interface has been metro-like TIFKAM for some time now, I think that's the aim for Microsoft, everything windows uses the same interface?

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Re: Newell

Steam is as bad in its own way (e.g. Steam the infrastructure is tied to Steam the store) but it's not in a position of owning an OS to use as leverage to kill off competitors and that is what Apple and Microsoft are clearly doing.

So I wouldn't say it's sour grapes so much as grounds for an antitrust suit.

My own belief is all platforms would benefit from a gaming infrastructure, with single sign on, trophies, etc but there is no reason that such a system should have to be closed at all.

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Facepalm

Re: The Xbox

I got offered a free Xbox a while ago, saw the new dash, said "no thanks".

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Linux

Re: Newell

Still no Games for Windows Live and XBox Live in many countries.

There, I said it.

Penguin. Because Steam is available in many countries XBL and GFWL isn't. And Steam is coming to Linux.

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FAIL

Re: Newell

The PC as a gaming platform holds superiority over consoles because of their "a fixed hardware spec"

Steam's sales are not dependent upon people buying new systems in the near future, and including 'nix in their business plan only yields a bigger market.

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FAIL

Re: Newell

"Penguin. Because Steam is available in many countries XBL and GFWL isn't. And Steam is coming to Linux."

I wouldn't be so confident about Valve's intentions for Linux. The way I see it Steam is coming to Linux for two plausible reasons:

1) As a side benefit of whatever cloud platform / console Valve are currently working on. i.e. if Valve are producing a Linux powered gaming box which connects to the cloud or downloads to local storage it would be relatively trivial to support other forms of Linux at the same time.

2) As a bargaining chip for some lawsuit. Much the way as AOL bought Netscape and started using Gecko instead of the IE browser engine as a bargaining chip to get a settlement out of MS.

Perhaps there are other reasons but I don't believe one of them is because Linux is a profitable platform to support. The number of desktop users has to be a fraction of a percent. It'd be barely worth their while except in the context of something else they're up to that we don't know the full details of.

That won't stop me applauding when it finally appears though. Getting Steam to work reliably through WINE is a dark art even with PlayOnLinux.

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Re: Newell

> Getting Steam to work reliably through WINE is a dark art even with PlayOnLinux.

Really? I just installed Steam then installed my games. Under Wine. There was no fiddling as far as I remember.

Of course, you experience may vary depending on the games that you want to run.

Most of Valve's games are pretty well written though.

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Re: Newell

"Really? I just installed Steam then installed my games. Under Wine. There was no fiddling as far as I remember."

Yes. The steam client sometimes crashes for no reason, or can't open a pipe to the game during a launch, or goes odd in some other way. It's amazing it works at all but it's still flakey. On top of that steam is just the launcher and every game has it's own issues depending on what APIs it hits.

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Facepalm

Re: The Xbox

"I got offered a free Xbox a while ago, saw the new dash, said "no thanks".

You do realize the dash is a means to an end, i.e. launching the many forms of content the XBox can display, and that once you have launched your game/film you don't have to look at it again until you want to launch something else, don't you?

I ask because by declaring you turned away a free XBox just because you don't like the dash makes you look a little silly. And ungrateful to whoever was offering the thing to you.

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Boffin

Re: The Xbox

I have a PC, so I don't need an Xbox. Too many adds on the dash for my liking. At least the PS3 keeps their latest gumph and adds mainly in the online section (although the scrolling add in the corner is not welcome). Granted Steam does the same to some extent, but I can avoid that much more easily by keeping to the "my library" section.

The old dash worked and had no adds on it. Lets just say, I would get an Xbox for games, not for "TV, film, media, social" and all the other options you tend to have to skip through before you get to the game bit. :P

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Where is the highly technical content requiring degree-level education or above??

Not needing an XBox is a sensible reason to decline one, but that's not what your original post said. It said you saw the dash and said "no thanks".

I generally like the current version of the dash, although liking it depends on your tastes, as with any other UI (I also like Unity). The old UI was fine too.

Regarding the ads, yes, some people don't like being advertised to and that's fine. In fact, I do think MS should include the option to turn them off, since you've already paid for the console and probably the subscription to XBox Live.

However, the tile to launch the game on the disc is always the first highlighted, so there isn't really stuff to skip through before you get to the game bit. You just put the disc in the tray and hit the A button. :P

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If it's an advantage it's one they're squandering

I'm pretty certain if MS were to launch a tablet and phone combo with ports/spin-offs of Gears of War, Halo, Forza, etc it would garner a significant amount of gamer interest. However I've seen absolutely no signs of MS trying to use their IPs to their advantage.

Microsoft's decision to sell ARM and x86 tablets is also a baffling one to me. Don't get me wrong, I love ARM but based on the rumoured specs of the x86 Surface with an i5 CPU in there it's far more interesting as it has the potential to run fairly recent PC games and a significant proportion of emulators. Why MS isn't going full steam ahead with that platform I don't know.

I think MS are sitting on a gaming goldmine and they're ignoring it to faff around with Notro and hiding the start button...

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Re: If it's an advantage it's one they're squandering

Just a small point: Gears of war isn't Microsoft IP, its owned by epic who signed up for a exclusive deal. It may one day go multi platform. :)

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Re: If it's an advantage it's one they're squandering

"Why MS isn't going full steam ahead with that platform I don't know."

Well they are - but why they aren't going ahead only with x86 is presumably cost. The x86 Surface (and i5 tablets in general) will be more expensive, and ARM allows them a way into the ultra-low end of tablets.

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Re: If it's an advantage it's one they're squandering

> ARM allows them a way into the ultra-low end of tablets.

I very much doubt that Windows RT tablets will be anywhere close to 'the ultra-low end' of anything, except perhaps sales.

MS have, once again, dictated what OEMs can use to build these devices, even to the point of which OEMs are allowed to use which suppliers. Apple have set up their supply chain with large volumes and this keeps BoM costs down. Smaller manufacturers can buy cheaper components and even remaindered overuns to make cheap devices.

MS OEMs will each be making different devices from different supplier's parts and competing for the same market. This gives small production runs, and allows the suppliers to charge higher prices because they can't use alternates. They will each have to cover their development costs on smaller sales numbers. Also MS will be charging estimated $70-$100 per unit regardless of sales price. This means that the units will have to be in the premium category to try to keep that cost as a smaller percentage of the total.

It seems unlikely that any RT tablet will be less than the new iPad and will probably be priced noticably more than those, unless they are subsidized by MS with a contract for services, or remaindered when they don't sell.

Windows 8 x86 tablets will be even more expensive. Intel will want to recover development costs for low power chips. MS will want 'full' OEM Windows 8 and Office pricing.

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Where's the XNA?

Then why drop XNA? In one swoop they've removed a bunch of developers who could have brought their games over to Windows 8.

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Re: Where's the XNA?

I suspect they only lost one developer and that was you, all the other developers ported their XNA WP7 apps in 20 mins using http://monogame.codeplex.com/ and have it sat waiting for certification in the Win8 App store and are down the pub while you're whining on here :) Keep up old boy.

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Linux

GFWL

"Microsoft has done many, many things wrong over the years." Agreed. "Gaming hasn't been one of them" Err.. does Games for Windows Live ring any bells?

Penguin to celebrate Valve's incoming support for linux.

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@Sutekh: Re: GFWL

"Penguin to celebrate Valve's incoming support for linux."

You possibly do not realize that the Steam client is one thing, and the games that Steam distributes are something else entirely. You can have a Steam client on Linux and still be very very far away from having a worthwhile selection of games to run. For example, because I run XP, there are DX10 games that I can not play. Expect to find yourself in a similar but much much worse situation...

And this is even before before the question of Linux drivers for gfx cards is broached.

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Re: @Sutekh: GFWL

Actually, it depends what you play. If you're part of the MW3 crowd, yeah, you'll struggle.

But almost all Valve titless can and probably will be ported (given that Valve/Steam are basically the same company). Hell, it'd be worth trying it on Linux just to play HL2:Ep3 a few days early if they really wanted to push that side of Steam.

And then you have the myriad indie titles, thousands of them, that are offered singly, through humble bundles, etc., almost all of whom already support Linux versions (e.g. Altitude, Dungeons of Dredmor, Gish, etc.). Hell, there's DOSBox-based games galore on there from the classic titles.

Sure, maybe not everything will come over, but you won't be staring at an empty game list. At least, not much worse than an XP users (and I've never bought a game that *demanded* DX10 because it just reeks of bad programming to me, given that it does little of value that isn't achievable on DX9).

Even ignoring that, quite a lot is "Wine-able" software even on the AAA list. You see bugs filed against Wine for games within seconds of them being released.

Linux drivers? The biggest impetus to AMD/nVidia to pull their fingers out might be a multi-million dollar games store running their client on Linux desktops, for example.

It's an obstacle, but no more an obstacle than, say, trying to get a GfWL game working from a bare-bones install (I just had that fun on Windows 7). And any progress is progress. Personally, I think I'd download Steam on a Linux machine just to finally revel in the thing I've been asking for for nearly a decade now and could never understand why they don't didn't it.

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Headmaster

Re: @Turtle Steam + Linux

AFAIK Steam are working on an API to "natively" or whatever run windows games. Either a complete code of what is needed, or some automatic profiles for WINE (not emulation, so super fast!). So if and when you buy a game on Steam Linux, it will download the WINE profile and/or a set of API and code needed to run it on Linux.

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Re: GFWL

This right here.

Microsofts GFWL has been an absolute disaster after disaster. Their first incarnation required you to pay if you wanted to play online... on a pc. They have had endless missteps. Go into any pc gaming orientated forum or site and GFWL is treated as a joke.

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Re: GFWL

GWFL had the potential to be a great system. MS supplied the infrastructure without restricting where people purchased their games from. Problem is the thing always seems to want updating and never seems to offer much except some achievements. And since it only kicks in when the game starts you only know a game needs patching when you start it which is too late.

Anyway I have a few games which have GWFL *and* Steam built into them. Bioshock 2 for example. Make of that what you will.

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@Lee Dowling & @TechnicalBen: Re: @Turtle Steam + Linux

You could both be right about it but I am very skeptical. When facts prove you right, then I will be more than happy to admit that I'm wrong. We will see....

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Re: @Turtle Steam + Linux

Valve are supposedly porting their Source engine and now have a version of Left4Dead II working, allegedly faster than the WIndows version.

I see no reason why they wouldn't use this to push their other titles out.

Of course, the real motivation is the anticipated Linux-based console that they likely have in the sidelines.

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Re: @Sutekh: GFWL

Yep.. we know.

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Silver badge

MS already has a Windows gaming "ecosystem" for the PC

Why would a touch GUI transform it into a success?

And why would Valve be that worried? It hasn't felt the need to get into the tablet/phone game market - all its catalog is on large devices. Casual touch games are almost too cheap to make money on when they are new - the only way to make money is be selling millions and if you don't own the platform, you don't get a chance to do that.

Apple's store doesn't really compete (effectively) with Steam and that's been on the Mac for a while, though MS is likely to be more aggressive in its pricing.

MS could do well in mobile gaming, but I suspect its Nintendo and PS who need to be worried about that. I can't see keyboard/mouse gamers having more than a passing interest in touchscreen entertainment - its even more inaccurate than a console.

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Re: MS already has a Windows gaming "ecosystem" for the PC

What can MS do in the mobile space to improve gaming?

Touchscreens are absolutely awful for most games and if they release something that has an analog stick and buttons, that'll put most people off. They'll see it as some geek's phone.

Mobile gaming just isn't going to take off in any threatening way unless someone resolves the issue of having decent controls without making it look stupid as a phone.

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Mushroom

Re: MS already has a Windows gaming "ecosystem" for the PC

Valve are worried that MS are going to abuse their monopoly to try to push Valve (et al) out of the games on PC market.

Just like they did to the browser market many years ago.

And while that would again be grounds for an antitrust lawsuit, that didn't help Netscape very much.

From here it certainly looks like MS are trying to create a walled garden inside TIFKAM, and that would indeed be a disaster (and yet another abuse of monopoly from a convicted abuser).

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Silver badge

Android gaming seems to be in its infancy, MS have a chance to overtake it here. No big player has released a game controller for use with Android handsets to allow them to compete with Gameboys and PSPs... vicious circle of software support? Obviously Sony would want you to buy a Vita, and also has 'PSP certified' badges for other phones, but it doesn't seem to have taken off.

Microsoft could release a controller, and it might give Win8 an edge over Android. Opinions differ on which is better, the XBOX or the Playstation controller, but they are both good pieces of hardware- demonstrated by the fact that most users of either system go for the official controller.

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You can plug a PS3 controller into a Android device with the right adapter. (Both use mini? Micro? usb).

Some games work nicely, others not so much.

Want to be clever Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo? You release an android game enviroment for your consoles and have some games allowed onto the consoles (ok they'd look terrible but most of the indie games do anyway and people buy them).

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controller

My thoughts exactly, if Apple/Google/MS released a standard specification for a control pad it would take away the biggest single problem to mobile gaming. Would be easier for Apple/MS due to the lack of different models, but Google could still do it. They don't even need to manufacture them, just lay down a standard configuration of "it will have this many buttons in this sort of position, and one/two joysticks roundabout where your thumbs are". Then lots of games would use the same layout, and design them around the standard controller.

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Anonymous Coward

Most Android devices are USB slave, as are the controllers, so not so easy. One needs to be master and give out power.

But as for the PS3 controller thingie. I had an old PC controller (usb thing, based on the PS2 controller as it came out before the PS3 was out). Plugged it into the PS3 and it worked, no fiddling about required. I was quite impressed

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Silver badge

It would probably want at least the option of being bluetooth, this hypothetical standard controller- some people will be using their phone connected to a TV via HDMI, and won't want to get up and cross the room to answer a phone call. Plus, when using their phone to put movies on the big TV, the game controller can act as a media player controller, much as XBOX/PS owners already use their wireless controllers to do.

I know Bluetooth controllers for Android already exist, but they are lacking the critical mass of adoption. i think it needs a big player to get the ball rolling, though. Sony are being too short sighted in trying to use the idea to shift specific handsets, Apple aren't bothered - the mere fact that they already sell plenty of units seems to have reduced their motivation to innovate - Google could get the idea out there (acting to co-ordinate its hardware licencees- and also, whilst it has the people in the room, get a standard Android dock connector sorted out!), MS definitely should look into this.

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WTF?

Kinect?

If they're really serious, then why are PC gamers still having to wait for proper Kinect games?

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Boffin

Re: Kinect?

In fairness, most Xbox gamers are still having to wait for proper Kinect games, too.

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Mushroom

Re: Kinect?

Kinect V1 is very good at what it does - - but it isnt accurate enough for single finger control required for say full combat games, etc.

This will come with Kinect V2 due very soon....

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Re: Kinect?

No one wants kinect games. Have you seen what's been released? It's a handful of bargin bin crap that doesn't work unless it's a dance game.

People only buy kinects to hack around with or to build into a non-gaming project. It's useless on xbox.

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Happy

@RICHTO

Ah, the standard Microsoft line: "This will come with <insert future release here>"

Usually to be followed by "<The only feature anyone actually wanted> had to be cut from this release due to <insert plausible-sounding excuse here>"

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Devil

Re: @RICHTO

Well, yes.

But by announcing it, and then delaying it (effectively, announcing it again), they deter competitors from taking the time and trouble to develop it. And if any rival company isn't deterred, they'll find that a whole tranche of their potential customers *are*, and now they're "waiting for the next service pack of Windows, which will have this function built in".

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WTF?

er.. hasn't microsoft always owned the PC gaming market? For me & all my friends my age it is what drove us into the PC market from the 486's onwards. I certainly don't remember anyone buying a mac to play F1GP, or Doom or Duke Nukem 3d, or Quake etc... etc.... etc...

At least from where I am sitting, the early PC gaming domain was the main driver for consumer ownership of PCs. Before ubiquitous internet connections it was pretty much the only reason a PC ever made it into the home.

Maybe I have missed the point though?

Disclaimer: I am very hungry but don't want to do the dishes before making lunch :(

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Silver badge
Thumb Up

Agreed, hence the spoof ads.

"Hi, I'm a Mac"

"....."

"He's a PC. What are you doing, PC?"

"Gaming".

"Haha, yeah, gaming, what games have you got?"

"All of them. Bitch".

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Anonymous Coward

"At least from where I am sitting, the early PC gaming domain was the main driver for consumer ownership of PCs. Before ubiquitous internet connections it was pretty much the only reason a PC ever made it into the home."

I doubt that very much. Maybe that was true of Commodores and Amigas, but IBM-PC compatibles were used by a lot of laypeople at home for things like word processing and spreadsheets.

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Anonymous Coward

You're kidding me; right?

Unless they've done something serious, they won't be able to reverse discoveries that have happened.

Steam discovered the performance improvement on Linux OpenGL over Microsoft and Direct X - I think it was reported here on El-Reg ... it didn't just happen and they had to work on the code, but if Linux starts to prove itself to be the better performing gaming platform, then coupled with the other devices which are coming out that are also based on the Linux kernel, then this could be the begining of the end for Microsoft.

I'm still playing Unreal Tournament 2004 which came with a Linux installer when it was released. I wouldn't like to see whether it still plays under Windows 7 or Windows 8.

Now THAT could be a real turn on for people like me to want to get more life out of our gaming investment than just the life span of the original target OS.

Eyes are opening and I wouldn't mind betting that, given another five years, the default gaming platform might well have changed entirely. What shall we say ... a fiver?

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Mushroom

Re: You're kidding me; right?

That wasnt a proper benchmark - it was a small bit of code that they worked for months to optimise. In true wideranging benchmark tests, Direct X still significantly outperforms Open GL.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: You're kidding me; right?

"Eyes are opening and I wouldn't mind betting that, given another five years, the default gaming platform might well have changed entirely."

Yeah, because you aren't willing to write off a game from 8 years ago or trying to run it under Win 7 or 8 but everyone else will write off their entire games collection and gladly switch platforms. Yes they will. But only in your dreams.

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Re: You're kidding me; right?

This is by no means scientific but postal 2 definitely ran better on ubuntu on the same hardware which was a relief since at the time I didn't really get to enjoy it on windows given that it was too choppy.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: You're kidding me; right?

@AC - Pardon? Would you mind writing that again? I'm not sure you made your point clearly.

Anyway, to answer what you DID write...

Why SHOULD I write a game off that I've paid good money for. I can pick up a book, CD, DVD and still play/read them decades on. Heck, I've still got three BBC B micros and still play Sabre Wulf, and Elite Executive Edition. (oh, that 6502 co pro :-D )

Why should the PC gaming companies think they are any different?

I haven't tried running it under Win 7 or 8 because I don't own those systems. I went to Linux and haven't looked back ... except for gaming, and fortunately some people have ported things like the Quake engine, etc. to Linux and with games like Darwinia coming out, I'm happy enough to not have to need to go back to Windows.

However ... people are going to have to switch platform anyway ... whenever they trade up their Windows versions. I remember needing new applications when I switched from 3.11 to 5, to 98, to ME, to 2000 and XP. Past experience tells me that Win 7 and 8 probably won't be any different.

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