Is Windows 8 a catastrophe or a success?

Is Windows 8 a catastrophe or a success?

Summary: Spoiler Alert: Windows 8 is a blinding success and it's not even out yet. Valve excluded.


By now, you've seen the headlines on ZDNet and other places about Valve Software's co-founder Gabe Newell stating that, "Windows 8 is a catastrophe for everyone in the PC space.” I'm sure Ballmer and the boys over at Microsoft paused their glass-clicking just long enough to laugh at that statement. So, to let you know, in case you can't figure it out for yourself, Windows 8 is, in fact, so not a catastrophe for anyone except for those who don't understand it. Windows 8 is basically, in my humble opinion, Windows 7 R2 with a new interface dubbed 'Metro.' Admittedly, I wasn't a big fan of '8' in the beginning. I've changed my mind--in spite of what some fanboys think--without a penny coming to my bank account from Microsoft.

And, in spite of what you or Gabe Newell might think of Windows 8, it's no catastrophe.

Gabe, you silly, silly boy.

Of course, Gabe's statement certainly put his little software company on everyone's radar. Before this, I'd never heard of Gabe Newell or Valve Software. That might seem odd but I don't do any gaming on the Xbox* mainly because I don't own an Xbox. We've always been Nintendo people at my house. Sure, I've heard of a few of their games but who really pays attention to the company that creates them? Not me, but maybe that's just me.

I'm not sure I can tell you who created Angry Birds (Rovio?) and I'm a huge addicted fan of that one. The last PC game I was hooked on to any extent was Delta Force by NovaLogic. I know it was NovaLogic because I tried to contact customer support a few times. Actually, I wasn't able to contact customer support at NovaLogic and the result was that I had to give up playing Delta Force--my favorite game that I bought online and downloaded. However, that's fodder for another post/rant.

I'm not really sure that we should care what Gabe Newell thinks about Microsoft's Windows 8 platform. It will exist and be wildly successful in spite of what he says. For that matter, it will be wildly successful in spite of what I say or even what Steve Ballmer says about it. Microsoft owns the desktop. Unless gamers want to maintain two PCs: One Windows and one Linux, they will have to choose between the two.

Valve Software can choose not to create games for Windows 8 and I'm not sure anyone will really shed a tear. I know I won't. I absolutely couldn't care less if Windows 8 plays games at all. It does, though. Ever hear of running a program in compatibility mode? If not, you should. It might be a good idea to send Gabe an email with that information in it.

Maybe Microsoft should build a desktop operating system for business and one for play. Oh wait, they kinda do already: Windows 8 and Xbox. I'm just saying. If you want to play games, then buy something that plays games. If you need to work, by a tool, like a PC that runs Windows 8. A little productivity probably wouldn't hurt. A few situps wouldn't kill you (or me) either.

The bottom line is this: Gabe should stick to managing his company that builds games on whatever platform he chooses. Microsoft should build operating systems for business and game consoles for games. I personally think the two should never cross paths. Again, that's probably just me.

A hammer is for hammering nails. A screwdriver is for screws. A PC and desktop operating system are for work. If you choose to juggle with hammers and screwdrivers, you have to accept the consequences of doing that.

*Yes, I know they make PC-based games too. I don't play them either.

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Topics: Windows, Microsoft, Operating Systems


Kenneth 'Ken' Hess is a full-time Windows and Linux system administrator with 20 years of experience with Mac, Linux, UNIX, and Windows systems in large multi-data center environments.

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  • What?

    Just out of interest, why is ZDNet publishing articles by people who willingly admit they're ignorant of the topic?

    Trying to back up a point-of-view by being a system administrator and saying "Windows 8 will be a success" is quite possibly the weakest argument I've seen published in years.
    • Windows 8

      We have software assurance in our office, so we can upgrade to windows 8 for free, i already run it on my PC that i use in the office, and soon as i can get a Surface Pro i will (Full powered computer on the go, instead of having to lug my laptop to people etc)

      Not only do i find it extremely easy to use, i think it actually saves time once you get used to it.
    • Demographics

      Well in this case, the overwhelming majority of people like Ken using Windows don't play games, so all he's doing is giving his side the shout out that's directly opposite of what a-hat Newell is spewing.

      The joke of the whole Newell rant is that he doesn't like the desktop where Valve lives being combined with Metro which is where gaming will eventually move. In essence day one of W8 release, nothing has changed for valve. The desktop is still there. He just doesn't like people having to go through Metro to get to his games, because he's afraid that his company won't be able to ramp up moving his games over to WinRT as fast as others may do so.

      He's a big, fat crybaby.
      • I like that response

        And I should redirect all my hate mail to you. ;-)
      • Dumb is Dumb

        At least Newell was smart enough to specify that Win8 was a catastrophe for GAMERS, arguing with a guy who has made games and the most successful PC distribution system for those games that he is wrong about this is dumb.
    • How do you figure that?

      A weaker argument is stating that something is a weak argument without anything to back it up.
      • Stupidity

        And stupidity is what you just demonstrated.
        (May I direct you to google "Logical fallacies" and click the "List of Fallacies" wiki link.)
        Death to Stupid
    • Wow. How did they let you write this?

      Huh-200d1 got it right. Valve is a major force in a spectacular category. That you don't know who they are and yet are allowed to publish this is another catastrophe (well, not quite that dramatic - perhaps a travesty).
      Also, Gabe is smarter than you are so I might just go along with his assessment but thanks for sharing...
    • Ignorance Is Not to be Excused

      I have to give it to Dan that, true, the majority of Windows users are not gamers. However, for their unusual "make yourself productive" business model alone, most informed publishers know who Valve is. To say that Gabe's claims are silly with no actual look into why he said them is absurd, and no, it wasn't for the news press. His worry is that Windows becomes a closed system where games and regular-use products alike become available only through a Microsoft Store. Valve uses Steam specifically to enable small indie developers as well as large corporations to publish games without a ridiculously high commission going straight to Microsoft. So, jjworleyeoe, that's not his beef, his beef is a legitimate concern on the possibility of cornering and shackling what's currently an open market. Get informed first, then we'll talk.
    • So true.

      So much in this article shows znet should fire some people.
      I'll take what a game developer says about a O/S out of context and apply it to my article because lets face it, no one had ever heard of Ken Hess until he posted something controversial.
  • thats the attitude.. love it

    See, that's the kind of attitude we rational people need to have.
    Totally agree that windows bashing is the best way to get coverage in media. Not because readers wanna read that, but because it makes sensational headlines.

    so, who cares, what these numb nuts have to say, I know my kid will never learn IT by using iPad. Windows is the way for that.

    So yes, Windows 8 will Succeed, till it doesn't closed down like ios.
    • Regardless of how bad it is it will be successful

      Summary of the arguement presented. Strangely I'm not convinced.
      Richard Flude
      • No...

        Regardless of what anyone says about it. Windows 8 is very good. I have a laptop running it with Office 2013. It works very well. Windows bashing and Microsoft bashing won't make the product any better or worse.
        • seriously

          If it works for you, its great. If not try something else. What's the beef?

          Never found a worthy "one-size-fits-all" to date. My solution: Dual/triple boot. Also have multiple machines so no need for virtual. You can build a very good machine for about $500 so why not?

          That said, I really don't need anything else. Besides some experimenting don't plan on doing much with Win8. Further don't take windows on line period. Have had enough fun and games with viruses and antiviruses. Yeah I know some say linux is vunerable, but in 3 years have had zero issues. Have had other issues and it is not impossible that one or two of them were actually malware related and I just never knew although I seriously doubt it based on what changed, what happened next and isolating the issue to a paticular directory. Since my data is isolated, it is generally quicker and absolutely 100% effective to just redo the machine from scratch, a 90 minute drill, rather than to jack around for hours trying repair a problem hidden deep in some sub directory. Ran my own repair shop for 5 years and made most of my money fixing damage from viruses on MS machines. Doing development now and quite happy with linux.
    • Just like...

      Just like Windows ME! Oh, wait, bad example... ok, just like Windows Vista! Crap, that's not a good example either...
      In all seriousness, PC gaming is a HUGE market as well as a significant technological driver for progress in PC's. Anyone who thinks otherwise needs to do their research. Also, see my post above for why you missed the point of Newell's complaint. We don't need another closed market like Apple when the open market is what has made Windows a success.
  • Perhaps test drive what valve does before badmouthing it

    Seriously, this is a terrible article. The man doesn't even understand the difference between PC gaming and using a Nintendo. He thinks that Valve is just some other company cranking out games. Has he never even heard of Steam?

    Go find somebody else that isn't so blinded by his own experiences to think that "A PC and desktop operating system are for work" when more than 50 million people game on PC's on a regular basis and try again.
    • I use steam

      And it is offering what Windows 8 will have out of the box with the xbox live experience and the app store. Incidentially steam works fine on Windows 8, but I can't think that steam would be a major force in os choice, it is just a distribution channel. I personally avoid it whenever I can, getting a 16 GB game on steam (like GTAIV) sounds nice, but when you need to reinstall a pc it suddenly becomes a burden en you would be glad if you (like me) just purchased the retail version on DVD.
      • Please, this is the year 2012

        I can't remember the last time I ever bought a PC game at an actual store. It's all about digital distribution. DRM plays a bigger role every year so being limited to the 'xbox' experience on my computer is NOT something I want.

        This also felt like a middle schooler wrote this article. Zero research was done. Good job, Soccer Dad.
        • Yes... this is 2012

          Where's my flying car? Where's my teleportation pad? Why doesn't my game know I legally purchased it after the first time?

          You make a very bogus claim. I can still buy a CD player if I want... but it's 2012 so shouldn't CDs (and physical media for that matter) be dead? That's why I have 300+ DVDs in my TV room and my in-laws have twice that. I still go to the grocery store, but shouldn't the grocery store know what I have in my fridge and pantry and auto-refill me? Oh... I would need really expensive appliances and live in certain areas. But I thought everything was supposed to be "future like" since it's 2012.

          Yes, is IT 2012, but I agree with sjaak327. Having to wait several hours to download a game is useless. Having to wait a couple days to download all the games that require Steam is just pathetic. Oh... and I have to be connected to the internet in order to even play many games, even if it's one player and offline. Personally, I think the Steam platform has some usefulness, but it shouldn't really be used for as much as it is... if I own the physical media, please stop forcing me to use Steam.
          • What era do you live in?

            This is maybe you're living in some sort of alternate-dimension where broadband doesn't exist and people still use laser-discs to watch movies. In this world, however, we don't have to bother with that anymore. I stream my movies from Netflix or from my hard drive directly to my PS3 or PC. The only time that I buy BDs or DVDs is when I want a special version of something, and even then I immediately rip it to my hard drive and never look at the disc again.

            It takes me an hour at most to download a game on Steam because I get about 60mbps downstream. Basically the existence of physical media has been rendered obsolete by Steam. And thank goodness for that. No longer do I have to dig through spindles of CDs just to find Disc 3 of Riven. No longer do I have to buy the game all over again just because I lost one of the floppies for Sim City 2000. All of that silliness is over with, and good riddance to it! Steam may be one of the best things to ever happen to gaming, and I freaking love it.

            Then again, maybe you have dial-up. In which case, I'm surprised that you had enough bandwidth to upload that comment.