Gabe Newell recently made an appearance in Seattle, speaking at the Casual Connect Conference about, among other things, the potential "catastrophe" for the gaming market that is Windows 8. Newell, and ex-employee of Microsoft, fears that Windows 8 could herald an age in which Microsoft succumbs to the temptation of the closed platform. To Newell, this could happen "because they look at what they can accomplish when they limit the competitors' access to the platform, and they say, 'That's really exciting.'"
His ire seems to center around the Windows Store, a digital distribution hub that will come be featured on the forthcoming OS. As the BBC notes, "On some versions of Windows 8, it will be the only way to get downloadable software such as games. Microsoft takes a cut, up to 30%, of every sale made through this store." While it's hopeful to think that consumers might respond poorly to this kind of bother, it's worth noting that the closed nature of a system, such as Apple's iOS, has proved no obstacle to success. Take into account the fact that nearly every new PC will eventually be loaded with Windows 8, and the feared shift, however vulgar proponents of open platforms might find it to be, could simply become the cost of owning a PC - that is, unless one wishes to tread into the unfamiliar territory of Linux. Newell stated that Valve has been a "free rider" on PC, and that if Microsoft were to favor a more closed system with Windows 8, steps would need to be taken to ensure that Valve, and other companies that benefit from an open system, would continue to flourish in a post-Windows 7 environment. Thus, as a matter of preparation - and a way to protect the company's bottom line - Valve will be courting Linux users, with Newell stating that "we want to make it as easy as possible for the 2,500 games on Steam to run on Linux as well."
Yours truly reflects on the world of Windows - diving headlong into an aside of above-average proportions - after the jump!
The notion that "some" versions of Windows 8 might have such restrictions is bothersome, but even though I'm not sold on the notion that something dreadful is looming on the horizon - worst case scenario, tech-savvy folk will probably dream up some sort of workaround - I'm simply not keen on upgrading from 7. There's an old notion that the release history of Windows is a bit like a rapid-cycling schizophrenic, with one release being rather sound, and its follow-up being some kind of digital monstrosity summoned from the swirling abyss, existing only to punish man for his innumerable sins. For me, this has been the case. Windows 95 brought with it millions of vibrant colors, most of which tended to, shall we say, focus on the blue end of the spectrum. Windows 98 nearly caused my fifteen-year old self to write a sternly-worded letter to Gates & Co., though 2nd Edition remedied many of my complaints. After skipping its successor, we found ourselves in the care of XP - off to a rocky start, but eventually redeemed by Service Pack 2 - before arriving at Vista, the memory of which exists primarily in the darkest, most repressed depths of one's subconscious: a realm typically reserved for parental abuse and the death of childhood pets. For the most part, Windows 7 has worked just fine.
Regardless, I'm happy to see that Valve is moving some of its cargo onto the Good Ship Linux, since once I finally crack the code needed to grow my own "graphics card tree," my PC will be used used primarily as a gaming machine. After a rather rough start with Ubuntu (i.e. hardware compatibility issues/"why the f**k can't I get on the internet?"), I'm ready to give the old boy another shot.
What do you think, gamers? Shall we comrades lock arms and defend the cause of freedom, or is this all so much alarmist balderdash? Sound off in the comments section below!