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Windows 8: Game Over Man!

Windows 8, Microsoft's attempt to be more Apple than Apple, is about to shake up my world and the world of serious gamers everywhere.
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At home I have two desktop computers: a PC and a Mac. One of these computers is for serious work such as coding Lua programs, audio production, image processing, and blog authoring. The other computer is for fun activities like Minecraft, StarCraft, DOTA, and Warcraft. If you think the Windows PC is the serious computer and the Apple Mac is the fun computer then you're in for a surprise.

I would never use an Apple Mac for fun.

I don't get much time to play computer games but when I do I treat it as a very competitive sport. I customize every component of my fun computer so that's overclocked and overpowered. I talk to my friends with expertise in PC hardware, networking, and operating systems to ensure my fun computer is highly optimized to the point where I get every possible edge over the competition that available on a hobbyist's budget. I have a special gaming mouse and keyboard, and I built my PC to my own spec with my own hands. Usually guys my age are paying this kind of attention to their home theaters or sports cars. Me, I'm calling up Comcast and complaining about my Internet ping tests results! (Five ms! OMG I have trolls to kill!)

So naturally my gaming operating system of choice is Windows 7. It's fast, stable, well documented, highly customizable, and it runs all awesome PC games natively. I can't say enough good things about Windows 7.

I would never use a Windows PC for work.

The Mac OS X is a great working persons OS; it's very simple to own and operate. I don't have to think about about viruses and malware because Apple's Unix-based software and walled garden approach makes the blackhats work extra hard to show up on my Mac. I don't have to think much about customizing my Mac's desktop for work -- I use it as is and right out of the box. Apple's UI is intuitive because it's simple and leaves very few things up to the user. Ever try to customize a Mac application's toolbar? It's pointless. All the tools are on the toolbar to begin with. I don't worry about display drivers, printer drivers, and keyboard drivers because Apple limits my options and the Mac OS X's plug and play is really plug and play, not plug and wait while the system downloads a driver.

I've been very happy in this bifurcated world: One side optimized for work and the other customized for play.

Windows 8, Microsoft's attempt to be more Apple than Apple, is about to shake up my world and the world of serious gamers everywhere.

Valve, the people behind the Steam online gaming store and DOTA 2, is really mad. Gabe Newell, Valve's founder, has said, "Windows 8 is a catastrophe for everyone in the PC space."

Blizzard's Rob Pardo, VP of Game Design for Diablo 3, is also extremely unimpressed: He agrees with Newell and adds that Windows 8 is "not awesome for Blizzard either."

Even Notch, super nice Swedish developer of Minecraft thinks unkindly of Windows 8 and tweeted his unhappiness: "Got an email from Microsoft, wanting to help 'certify' Minecraft for Win 8. I told them to stop trying to ruin the PC as an open platform."

Why are all my favorite game developers snubbing the Windows 8 bandwagon?

If Windows 8 succeeds we will have another Apple on our hands. Another walled garden. It will be a safer place for consumers but a less exciting place for gamers. All Windows 8 apps will have to conform to guidelines and undergo a rigorous Apple-like certification process. The Windows 8 strategy is really the gentrification of the edgy but seedy part of technology land that grew out of the openess that was DOS and the IBM PC.

A great example is Minecraft. Would a game like that even get to market in a world where the independent runtime environments, like Flash and Java, are locked out and Microsoft, like Apple, takes an automatic 30 percent of every sale? I think not.

Fear not gamers! I see an even brighter future in a nearly unexplored territory which has long been overlooked! Turn your eyes from the walled gardens of Microsoft and Apple: With a simple reboot we can all play in a better place: Ubuntu!

Windows 8 will be a boon for Ubuntu and other consumer derivations of the Linux operating system. If Microsoft continues to drive game innovators like Notch, Blizzard, and Valve out of Windows, Linux is the next obvious choice. Gamers are already figuring out how to play Minecraft and Diablo on Linux (Notch approves, Blizzard feels it violates their terms of service). Valve is jumping in with both feet and has announced Steam for Linux.

Where the gamers go, the games will follow. Where games go, the PC market will follow.

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