With Windows 8 nearly here after the developer, consumer and then preview releases, and with Microsoft’s App Store-like Windows 8 Store about to go online on both x86/64 and ARM platforms, the dawn of a new Windows 8 era is upon us.
Windows RT ARM tablets by the plenty are due, and ultrabook/tablet hybrids by the 40 upcoming models too, the facts are simple: we’ll soon be awash at retail in Windows tabletry, marketing and what is sure to be competitive pricing.
This makes the Android tablet competition to the iPad look far fewer in number (despite the successful-thus-far Nexus 7), making Microsoft a hefty, deep-pocketed challenger to the massive success of the iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch and upcoming iPad Mini, and Android’s amazing smartphone successes, too – with Android tablets finally getting with the program thanks to the Google/Asus Nexus 7.
In this mix comes old-school PC gaming companies, Valve and Blizzard. Vavle, is famous for CounterStrike, Steam and plenty more, while Blizzard for World of Warcraft, Starcraft, Diablo and more, and traditional PC gaming has been these companies’ bread and butter.
Valve’s Gabe Newell says, amongst a lot more, that Windows 8 is a “catastrophe for everyone in the PC space”, with Blizzard’s Rob Pardo stating his own views via Twitter on Newell’s comments and adding that it was “not awesome for Blizzard either”.
While sales through the Windows 8 Store aren’t mandatory, they do bring in a cut for Microsoft from third-party sales, with Microsoft taking care of the payment mechanism and Win 8 Store promotion and curation, just as Apple does with the App Store for iDevices, but as with the Mac App Store on OS X 10.6.8, 10.7.x and 10.8.x, Apple does not force you use the Mac App Store only – or at least, not yet.
No doubt Valve and Blizzard fear one day being forced to use the Windows 8 Store, losing power from their own stores and being forced to share revenue with Microsoft, with Valve’s Newell speaking of creating the Steam gaming platform for PCs running Linux, with Atomic Magazine suggesting Valve could even create a SteamOS of its own in competition.
With Windows 8, Microsoft is certainly going for much more control of the platform than it has ever had before, which it wanted during the initial Palladium and Trusted Computing era of Microsoft, and which Apple has achieved with iOS.
No-one wants to be locked out of anything, whether they’re an existing big player or a new start-up fish that seeks to swim in a much bigger pond, so while there is genuine concern that Microsoft will end-up closing its system, that hasn’t happened yet - and would see heck of a lot more user protest before it does.
There’s also always the genuine alternative of Linux, which keeps getting better year after year, slowly getting more polished (or gnoming off in different directions), and waiting for someone new to do with Linux what Mac OS X 10 did to BSD.
Perhaps it is Mint Linux, or maybe the more commonly known Ubuntu, but it doesn’t feel like it yet, perhaps making the Linux-based SteamOS, Blizzard OS or GamingOS a great idea that just hasn’t happened yet.
I do remember Civilisation and a stack of other games for Linux distros on sale at Australian retail stores 12 years ago in the year 2000, but they didn't sell very well - it was years before their time, but you could certainly see it working today.
Windows 8 is about to launch, and it's sure to bring a huge stack of iOS and Android developers with it, especially if Windows RT and Windows 8 tablets sell during the all-important Christmas season – up against the iPad Mini, new iPad, Nexus 7 and others.
If it sells in big numbers, both for hardware and OS upgrades, then it really is “game on” in the world of tablets, with the real battle about to kick off in a way we’ve only glimpsed via the massive success of the iPad and its own world of iOS gaming, let alone the hundreds of thousands of other apps available from all those other genres of software app.
Windows 8 might be the still officially unreleased OS that games companies say they love to hate, but if sales do the talking, then the push of new users will come to shove and transform Windows 8 into an OS they love.
A lot more bits and bytes have to flow under the bridge before that happens, but with Windows still the world’s most popular OS, despite all the mind-blowing iExcitement and digital Droidery of the past half-decade, shutting the gate on Windows 8 is far too “prem8ure”, although come late December 2012, we’ll certainly have a much better idea of the ultimate fate of Windows 8!