Opinion: Windows 10: Ready or not, here it comes

Windows 10 was announced today, and it's supposed to be "the best one yet." We'll have to see. But then again, Microsoft needs it to be an operating system good enough for PC gamers. Here's why.

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Microsoft announced Windows 10 today, billing it as "the best one yet." We've heard that before. In fact, I think we've heard that line several times before. Whatever fate might await Windows 10, this is a crucial time for Microsoft to produce an operating system that appeals to gamers, because the competition has never been thicker.

Microsoft has a fairly consistent history of winners and losers, averaging a win about every other operating system starting with Windows 95. Win95 was alright, but Win98 was definitely better. Windows ME is best left forgotten, while WinXP made for a great fallback as Windows Vista crashed and burned, then crashed again. Next came Windows 7, which I still much prefer over Windows 8, even after it was fixed up in the 8.1 update.

You may be noticing a pattern. Microsoft releases a prototype Windows that people generally hate, then learns its lessons and incorporates whatever works best into the next iteration. If nothing else, the flops make us more appreciative of all the good parts of Windows. That being said, jumping over the Windows 9 name and going straight for "Windows 10" throws a wrench in the pattern. I'm almost certain that the reason why "it wouldn't be right to call it Windows 9" is because someone in marketing decided that people would be more attracted to a 10 than a 9. I can already see the ads now, stating that Windows is "a perfect 10." Or, maybe Microsoft needed to distance itself from Windows 8 with a whole version number. Fine, let Microsoft do what it has to, because Windows is being byset from all sides, and by both the usual and unlikely competetors, so it really needs to pull a perfect 10.

Having given up on Windows 8.1, I'd take almost anything. I'm tired of its split-personality: Live tiles for touchscreen devices, and a watered down Desktop mode for keyboard and mouse use. I don't need a live tile system that looks like something that was lifted off the Partridge Family Bus. So, I'm sure many shared a collective sigh of relief to learn that Microsoft is bringing back the Start menu, even if it does have the Win8 live tiles attached.

Most of the features appear to be more evolutionary than revolutionary, which fits neatly into the established pattern. Revolutionary Windows operating systems tend to have more bugs than an ant farm. I have to admit that I very much like handy tools like multiple desktops, and Snap functionality for four applications on one screen. I can't wait to do stupid things like run two MMO sessions and party with myself.

All kidding aside, Windows 10 has to be good. Microsoft has no choice. Windows 7 is already over five years old, and it's really starting to show. I have to jump through hoops to do a clean install from a flash drive, not to mention the headaches I had with setting up an SSD boot drive. In the meantime, Mac OS has already changed more than five times. Moreover, iOS and Android are dominating the mobile scene. In charts comparing mobile device sales, Windows Phones are catagorized in a tiny sliver called "other." It's so unsuccessful that Microsoft doesn't even get its own category. Even though it's important for Microsoft to continue trying to break into the mobile arena, the emphasis has to stay on the desktop experience. More to the point, Windows 10 needs to be good for gaming. The vast majority of high-end computer games are still for Windows, but that could soon change.

Years ago, Valve developed a platform called Steam in response to Microsoft's indifference toward video games. It has since grown into the biggest and most influential gaming service on the planet, and I believe that it was a major contributing factor in bringing the Windows platform and PC gaming back up to the top. Now Valve is poised to do something similar with SteamOS and Steam Machines. If SteamOS takes off the way Steam did, then Microsoft will lose its major advantage. Sure, PC gamers will need something to play today's games and some retro games, but they won't need Windows 10 or later to do it with. Plus, who is to say those games won't be ported to SteamOS? Alternatively, someone might develop a compatible emulator.

Microsoft needs to give players a compelling reason to use their OS as the default, or they risk losing them altogether this time. Microsoft has to stick to the pattern and make Windows 10 a winner, or else it might really be game over as the de facto home for hardcore gamers. 

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From The Chatty
  • reply
    September 30, 2014 3:00 PM

    Steven Wong posted a new article, Opinion: Windows 10: Ready or not, here it comes.

    Windows 10 was announced today, and it's supposed to be "the best one yet." We'll have to see. But then again, Microsoft needs it to be an operating system good enough for PC gamers. Here's why.

    • reply
      September 30, 2014 3:01 PM

      Ready or not? Perhaps there is no Wong answer.

      • reply
        September 30, 2014 3:07 PM

        rtrson you misspelled wrong, but coincidentally your misspelling corresponds to Steven's surname

      • reply
        September 30, 2014 3:08 PM

        It don't matter if you're Wong or right.

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        September 30, 2014 3:12 PM

        I haven't heard a name joke in a good, Wong while.

      • reply
        September 30, 2014 4:52 PM

        Sum Ting Wong!

      • reply
        September 30, 2014 6:57 PM

        *deep flourish* orientals

    • reply
      September 30, 2014 3:42 PM

      [deleted]

      • reply
        September 30, 2014 3:45 PM

        Performance.

        • reply
          September 30, 2014 4:06 PM

          Yeah, BF4 runs a little bit better (5+ fps) on 8.1 compared to 7

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        September 30, 2014 3:48 PM

        It has a drastic influence when microsoft has a tendency to artificially limit new directx versions to newer windows releases.

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        September 30, 2014 3:52 PM

        It's a mixed answer. It used to more than it does now, but now we have DirectX being tied more closely to the OS at lower levels. So, MS could do like it did with DX11/12 and almost force you to upgrade to take advantage of newer tech. The counterpoint to that is that more alternatives to DX are springing up. This is also where SteamOS can come into play. Also, just moving away from the PC and back to consoles because they tend to work easier than a PC.

        So, the worst case scenario for MS is that you just use a Chromebook for the web, email, etc. and then game on either a PS4, iOS device or Android or I guess SteamOS. Any of that is just bad business for MS's PC Master race theory.

      • reply
        October 1, 2014 1:12 AM

        SteamOS is supposed to be 30% faster than Windows for games, I think DaVinci1980 said. DX12 might change that a bit.

    • reply
      September 30, 2014 4:24 PM

      But what does Gabe think about it?

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      September 30, 2014 6:53 PM

      I wrote this on Reddit.

      If things keep going the way they are, having one OS across multiple screen sizes is going to be irrelevant.

      Windows Phone is dying and Surface (either flavor) has yet to take off. I realize MS feels that these are "must win" platforms, but it looks like the die has been cast and MS will never be more than an also-ran.

      If this is the case, then 10 years from now we'll be looking at a colossal waste of assets on the part of MS, money and resources that could have been used trying to create new markets rather than muscle into one that they lost even before they entered.

      • reply
        September 30, 2014 9:27 PM

        Windows phone is actually poised to take a win in the next 5 years if all goes well.
        MS has been pushing toward a single OS from Desktop down to phone and I cant wait until my entire PC is on my phone and I dock it at home with desktop styled hardware when I need a big screen and hardware to play new games.

        • reply
          September 30, 2014 10:50 PM

          That's not going to happen. Or rather, that _shouldn't_ happen.

          What should happen is that you have a cohesive experience across all your devices with All The Things available on every device via cloud syncing. Documents, settings, applications, all available on all the supported devices. The experience will change based on the device you're on, but the data should be portable and accessible across those devices.

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          October 1, 2014 12:08 AM

          I feel like the year of Linux on the desktop is also the year of Windows Phone winning anything

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        October 1, 2014 1:07 AM

        "MS will never be more than an also-ran."

        are you. like, for serrr-ri-ussss? *gum snap*

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          October 1, 2014 1:14 AM

          I think he means in the phone and tablet markets.

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            October 1, 2014 1:21 AM

            Sure, it's just the implication that either you're on top or you should quit because fuck even trying. I wonder if that logic is applied to other companies when they weren't on top of anything. I'm guessing not. Because it's retarded.

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              October 1, 2014 1:25 AM

              (Or even with MS themselves with XBOX, if they had thrown in the towel - because hey, they were "also rans" during the years it cost them billions they would have even less of a chance of gaining market share in that segment.)

              • reply
                October 1, 2014 1:40 AM

                I think Thresher is right on current trends though, isn't he? Windows Phone does seem to just be bumping along the bottom. It could turn around, but there's still not much sign of it. Their market share is actually falling at the moment, I think.

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                  October 1, 2014 1:48 AM

                  He's extrapolating based on current trends:
                  "If this is the case, then 10 years from now we'll be looking at a colossal waste of assets on the part of MS, money and resources that could have been used trying to create new markets rather than muscle into one that they lost even before they entered."

                  ...and hence my point about that logic being stupid - eg.: Was the XBOX a waste of assets, or an investment? It sure looked dire for years for the whole department, but it's worked out, and if they hadn't invested in it back then, they would have a harder job of making inroads to that market now. Same goes for other companies in other markets, like, I'm sure we can all think of plenty of others (*shackcoughnewscough*).

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                    October 1, 2014 2:57 AM

                    Or the first few months of the iPhone. Or the first year of the iPod, or just apple in general.

                    Everyone is behind until they're not. Tons of people said the same about Android when it was struggling.

                    • reply
                      October 1, 2014 6:44 AM

                      Sure, but there are also plenty of examples of companies wasting billions on failures. How much did IBM waste trying to break into the desktop market with OS/2, for example?

                      There's a point where the network effects are just too strong and it's impossible to break into a market with a new product, unless it really is very dramatically better.

      • reply
        October 1, 2014 5:48 AM

        I realize there isn't mass adoption for the Surface but it has been incredibly successful in my environment where most of our leadership has adopted to trade in their laptops for a Surface. We run 7 Surface 2 devices, a few have the docking station and it works great for them. One is requesting 3 monitor support (I believe the Surface 3 can do this?) but they love having one for travel and I love having something I can seamlessly manage in our environment.

        • reply
          October 1, 2014 6:15 AM

          all of our Surface Pros in our environment have been returned. Complained that the screen was too small. I wonder if the Surface Pro 3 will be better received.

          • reply
            October 1, 2014 6:19 AM

            Do you offer second screens? Everyone of ours has a 24" screen that they primarily use.

    • reply
      September 30, 2014 9:39 PM

      Worth reposting: "...with Windows 7 extended support running until January 2020, Microsoft needs to give enterprises reasons to move to a new version before it becomes a crisis." http://recode.net/2014/09/30/is-microsoft-paving-new-ground-with-next-windows-or-still-filling-potholes/

      That's from Forrester analyst David Johnson, who also says that only 1 in 5 companies are offering Windows 8 PCs to their employees. Between all the revenue that enterprise licenses drive, as well as the PC gaming ecosystem not wanting to deal with Windows 8's shenanigans (and with a lot of developers increasingly making Mac and/or Linux versions), Microsoft has plenty of angry customer bases that they royally pissed off with Windows 8, and now have to placate beyond just the scattershot appeasements that were Windows 8.1 and Windows 8.1 Update.

    • reply
      September 30, 2014 9:44 PM

      ...also, Windows 2000 Professional was secretly one of the best gaming OSes during the time most other gamers were running 98SE or ME. Yes, it wasn't quite as fast as a brand-new 98SE install, but it was rock-solid stable (as long as your peripheral card manufacturers were releasing WDM drivers, which were very new at the time, but NVidia did a very good job releasing drivers early for the then-new GeForce line).

      It was also lighter-weight than XP, though as time went on, it started to show its rough edges, and the speed advantage wasn't quite as important. I held onto 2000 well into 2005, finally upgrading to XP on the next gaming PC build in late 2005, which held me into my Windows 7 build in 2010, skipping Vista.

    • reply
      September 30, 2014 10:16 PM

      That last paragraph could have been written for 8, Vista, and possibly ME.

      I wonder is the skipping of 9 is as simple as the number 9 being unlucky in some cultures.

      • reply
        September 30, 2014 10:52 PM

        Windows 8.888?

        • reply
          September 30, 2014 10:55 PM

          Windows 88. Now with more jiggawatts!

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        September 30, 2014 11:10 PM

        I bet they spent a day or so in a conference room debating on whether to call it Windows X before shying away and settling on 10. I don't know why, but I bet they did.

        I think the real reasoning for not going with Windows 9 is because marketing probably felt that if they called it Windows 9 people would see this as just an incremental update to Windows 8. That's not good enough because Win8 had major Vista-like PR problems. So they decided they would skip 9 so that they can distance themselves from 8 and make it sound like it's gone through a much bigger and more significant update.

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        October 1, 2014 12:59 AM

        Or it sounds like Windows NEIN

    • Ziz legacy 10 years
      reply
      October 1, 2014 5:11 AM

      So where's the preview? It's 8am!? I was really hoping it'd be up so I could start downloading it before I had to go to work.

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      October 1, 2014 1:47 PM

      Disagree. They need WinX to be the new standard for tablets. They need to create value for the Windows Platform on the mobile market.

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      October 5, 2014 12:22 AM

      Vista was a fine OS, as long as you had the drivers to match. I built a new system when it came out, and except for an early (and brief) problem with installing multiple Logitech Cordless Rumblepad 2s, it ran beautifully.

      And it was beautiful.

      The only real problem with Windows 8 has been the bifurcation between the Desktop and Metro experiences, a problem (mostly) remedied by 8.1 Update 1 (and freeware like Classic Shell). Stuffing twenty years of Windows into a Desktop "app" (and attempting to force users into the Windows Store) was jarring, clumsy, and insulting.

      Now, I'm dual-booting 8.1 and 10, and I love 10. Having a choice between Start as a screen or menu is a plus, but its best features are:

      1) Unifying the Desktop and Metro interfaces. Metro apps run now in windows, and legacy windows are (virtually) border-free. Except for some button size and window size inconsistencies, program windows are virtually indistinguishable from app windows.

      2) Unified Win-Tab/Alt-Tab functionality. Windows 8's bifurcated UI extended even to switching between programs and apps. Now, it's fixed.

      3) Virtual desktops, built-in. (The fewer freeware tweak programs installed, the better.)

      4) The new Start works beautifully with the many custom game tiles I've created. (Whew!)

      The only thing I'd like to see added to Windows 10 is Aero. Otherwise, 10 really is the best Windows ever.

    • reply
      October 5, 2014 12:24 AM

      (By the way, I saw someone theorizing that the reason Microsoft decided to go with "10" instead of "9" is because of the potential for trouble with programs coded for "Windows 9x.")

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