Crystal Ball Time: Windows 8 VS. Retro-Gaming

Shawn Delahunty's picture

Hello everyone. The last part of my article on "Randomness and Zero-Sum" is forthcoming shortly. However I wanted to jump topics for a moment, and bring to your attention a subject that, I believe, will become problematic in the next year or so. Specifically, I want to direct your focus to what I predict as another soon-to-ensue debacle, courtesy of the (not really) friendly folks at Microsoft. Yes, I'm talking about Windows 8. No, I'm not picking on it for the reasons everyone else is.

So then, what's the issue? What precisely is the problem with Windows 8? Well, I think Windows 8 is going to have a monstrously negative impact on PC gaming; specifically, on our beloved topic of Retro Gaming. And it's going to be nastier than many people think.


Concern #0: Why Am I Bringing This Up Now?

For some time now, I've known about the issues which I will discuss below. Slowly, as more information on Window 8 has dribbled into the tech media streams, my "Level of Irritation" has grown. Today, I hit my trigger point, thanks to Mr. Gabe Newell of Valve Software. I read an article in which he lambasts Windows 8, and talks about how Valve is going to make the attempt to promote Linux as a valid, open gaming platform. (Whether or not Valve has a good chance to succeed in this endeavor is another topic, for another time. Personally, I'm rooting for it, and will do everything I can to support and assist along the way.)

Concern #1: The Backwards Compatibility Issue

Anyone who's been gaming on PC's for more than 10 years has been through this before: Games which ran like scalded monkeys on Windows XP didn't run very well or at all on Vista, at least until they were patched. Or the graphics drivers were patched. Or both. (Some more obscure games still don't run correctly.) Ditto for Window 7, no matter how much better than Vista it may actually be. (Although I'm no fan of Windows or Microsoft, I do think Windows 7 is a decent enough OS. At least I don't loathe it like some of their past offerings.)

But like or dislike aside, the bulk of PC games are still written for Windows. Speaking as someone who's been dealing with Microsoft since the DOS3.3 days, I can tell you that similar backwards-compatibility problems showed up during the transition from DOS to Windows 95 (Whew, what a debacle that was!) from Windows 95 to Windows 98, and from 98 to 2000. (I will politely exclude Windows ME from this discussion. We always referred to it as "Windows Meh"...) So from this perspective, I can tell you that "growing pains" and "backwards compatibility" are nothing new. However there were certain transitions which presented much more than mere, "growing pains". Some of them were seriously AWFUL.

One of the biggest headaches for those of use who love to run really old games has been the "backwards compatibility mode" which Windows supplied for DOS-based games. There are dozens and dozens of older DOS-based games that ran just fine in "Compatibility" mode in Windows-XP, which won't even try to launch under Windows Vista or Window 7. And again, this also happpened in prior years, with prior versions of the operating system.

None of this is a surprise at this point, and it would be foolish for us to expect things to improve. Sure, thanks to the wonderful work of many talented programmers, all volunteeers, we have solutions for most of these problems now. Programs like DOSBox, DOSEmu, and the free OS clone FreeDOS, offer the capability of running most "really old" or even "ancient" games. This is a terrific thing, and one for which I personally am extraordinarily grateful.

There are other options for doing "compatibility workarounds" too, if you have an old Windows-based game you wish to run:

  1. WINE:
  2. For people like me, who run Linux (or MacOS), WINE offers a terrific way to play a genuinely impressive number of old games. So you can do what I do; run Linux, and then merely fire up WINE to get your gaming fix. It isn't a perfect solution though, as there are many games which are poorly supported. (This is most often because the game's developer used obscure or undocumented APIs hidden in the innards of a given version of Windows. Diablo 1 for example has some funky 2D DirectDraw calls which mean you have to manually drag around actual Windows DLL's--even then there are still some graphics glitches.)

  3. Multiple OS Boot:
  4. Another option for the technically inclined, is to partition your hard-disk into pieces, and install the various versions of Windows or DOS which you want. Then you simply install the games on the OS version where they are the happiest. Want to play a game that only runs on Win98? No problem. You just reboot your machine, and off you go.

    As you might guess, this all sounds great, but there are obvious downsides to it:

    • -- First off, there is the TECHNICAL SET-UP of this scheme.
      If you are of a technical bent, or can tap a friend who will set up a system for you, then you CAN at least do this. If you aren't in this situation, it can be impossible to even try.
    • -- Next problem? TIME.
      It takes a loooong time to set up a multi-boot system. You have to back up all your data. You have to set up your boot-loader. You have to wait for each version of the OS to install. And reboot. And continue installing. And reboot. And so on.
    • -- Next up, AVAILABILITY OF THE OS.
      If you don't happen to have a Windows 95 CD, and and Windows 98 CD, and a Windows 2000 CD, AND a Windows XP CD... well, you're going to have to make a decision. Either start combing through EBay, or pirate a copy of every OS you need, or give up the idea of playing your old games. (I'm not condoning piracy, but given that so many machines ship these days without a friggin' OS Install CD, you may have no choice.)
    • -- Another problem, HARDWARE DRIVERS.
      A lot of people don't think about this one. But for old versions of Windows, there simply isn't a driver for your gee-whiz new nVidia GFX card---and there ain't gonna be one! Same goes for your sound-card. (Though thankfully, most of them still have a kind of rough 'SoundBlaster compatibility', so even the old DOS games will play sounds.)
    • --Last big problem? VULNERABILITY TO CRASHES AND ATTACK.
      Old versions of Windows have more holes than a sponge. It's not even possible to download the existing updates/fixes any more for some of them.

  5. Virtualization
  6. If you are an extreme nerd, then you can set up a "Virtual Machine" inside your current version of Windows. Then inside that magical bubble, you can install the older version of Windows, followed by all the old games you want. However, this presents all the same problems as Multiple OS Boot, and adds a few more for good measure:

    • -- It is MUCH harder to set up correctly, and configure to get it working.
    • -- It uses a LOT more system resources. This can be a real problem on older PCs--the extra load of the virtualization layer may slow the games to unpleasant, unacceptable, or outright unplayable speeds.
    • -- You may not have good compatibility with game software, compared to 'standard productivity' applications. To squeeze out performance, games are often tweaked heavily to make use of undocumented or hidden bits of the OS. These hacks usually allow the game to do questionable things with the hardware, but do boost performance. Since your game isn't ACTUALLY running on a real piece of hardware, but instead is working on a 'software image' of a machine, you will sometimes get breakage and crashes.

As you can see from this list, some of the workarounds to re-gain the ability to play your older games are seriously complicated. The various solutions are not something that is intuitive or fast to set up. Even for a propeller-head like myself, it often takes a long while to figure out all the tricks and obscure settings which have to be tweaked to get a given game to run. Even then, it is a frustrating experience.

But there's another thing lurking ominously just over the horizon, "The Catch". Windows 8 is going to break or completely prevent a lot of this "workaround" capability. Deliberately. Yes, Windows 8 is going to actively work to prevent you from even trying these kinds of things.

(Cue dark, ominous orchestral music...)


Concern #2: The Hidden "Keys to the Kingdom"
   (a.k.a. Your machine ain't yours anymore...)

As the marketing and PR machines at Microsoft and elsewhere begin the slow spin-up of "The Buzz Machine", there is a nefarious side-story of the Windows 8 launch cycle which is slowly making the rounds of the "technical press". This information, which seriously affects every user on a lot of different levels, is suspiciously still very absent from the gaming and mainstream press.

What am I yapping about? To get "Windows 8 Certification" stamp for their hardware, the OEM hardware manufacturers _MUST_ support UEFI and "Key-Signing". Let's take these in order, shall we?

Bye-bye BIOS... hello UEFI.

Every PC since the beginning of time has had what's known as a BIOS; this is some basic software which starts up and does some basic housekeeping when you flip on the power switch. Anyone who remembers PCs from the 1990's certainly remembers watching the "Memory Test" and the whizzing numbers that go by while the BIOS checks out your RAM for errors.

Most of the time, the BIOS goes about it's work, no one thinks much about it, and when it's done it boots your operating system. Most modern machines hide the BIOS away behind one sort of splash-screen or another, so you see the "Dell" or "HP" or "Acer" logo for a moment when you boot, then the wiggly Windows progress bar starts doing it's thing.

The only time anyone messes with the BIOS anymore, is maybe when they first get a machine and want to tweak something, or perhaps when you install a new video card or upgrade your RAM or hard-disk. Sometimes, if things start going mysteriously amuck on your machine, you might go in there to try and reset things. Other than that, it's basically forgotten.

In recent years, there has been an ursurper to the BIOS making its way into the works; UEFI. If you want the details, may I point you at Google. It is supposedly this amazing new replacement for BIOS, one that allows all kinds of wondrous things. Speaking as a low-level systems programmer, I tend to agree with Linus Torvalds: UEFI is idiotic. It's trying to solve problems that nobody has. And it introduces a whole host of other problems--as I'll get to in a moment.

Mac users have been dealing with UEFI for a bit longer that we on the PC side. Again, Google can provide you the details of when it was introduced, and some of the why-fors of that. The usage of UEFI has required some extra hoop-jumping when you try to make a Macintosh computer multi-boot, but the configuration dance for that is pretty well established now.

In the Windows world, Microsoft is about to up the ante in the battle over "Who owns YOUR PC?"

In addition to providing all the gee-whiz things, like the ability to use a mouse to configure your BIOS... uh, I mean UEFI settings, the new UEFI firmware structure is being used by Microsoft to slowly bend users and hardware OEMS further over a barrel.

Hardware Key Signing and "Secure Boot"

As I mentioned above, in order to get their fancy-pants "Microsoft Approved for Windows 8" sticker, hardware OEMs are being forced to put UEFI on their PCs. This is to support a new "feature": Cryptographic Key-Signing for "Secure Boot". In short, there will be a set of MS-generated MS-approved crypto keys hidden away deep in the innards of 'your' computer. When UEFI starts up and launches Windows 8, it will use those super-duper secret keys to... uh, ensure that no "unauthorized software" runs.

In plain English? You won't be able to run ANY software that doesn't have the matching "Okey Dokey Approval" keys tucked inside of it. What does that mean for your brand-new PC?

Out of the box, you will NOT be able to load and execute ANY other operating system on it.

Not Linux.

Not BSD.

Not Open Solaris.

Not Windows 7.

Not WinXP.

Not Win2000.

Not Windows Meh.

Not Windows 98.

Not Windows 95.

Not DOS.

No, I am not joking. Now Microsoft has put a good bit of time and money into a PR campaign to defuse this situation, claiming that, "All a user has to do is go into the UEFI and disable the signed-key requirement."

Um yeah. Let's see, how do I do that exactly? Oh yes:

  • Reboot.
  • Click through the UEFI mess to find the setting.
  • Change the setting.
  • Save and exit.
  • Machine reboots.
  • Select which OS I want to boot.
  • Wait.
  • Get into Win98, play me some Diablo 1.
  • Decide that I'm done playing and want to go back to working on some things.
  • Reboot.
  • Click through the UEFI mess to find the setting.
  • Change the setting.
  • Save and exit.
  • Machine reboots.
  • Select Windows 8.
  • Wait some more.

(Some people are yapping right about now, "Hey! Why are you saying turn the key-signing flag back ON?!?" Because I'll _have_ to do that to boot Windows 8. Not right away possibly, but eventually--they'll issue a patch that 'Checks to ensure your PC is "Fully Protected"!' At some point, I expect them to "helpfully" set the flag back on automagically for you, and not tell you.)

What a mess! That's far worse than just the regular dual-boot/multi-boot option I discussed above. How many people are going to want to do that? How many people will even know that they can? More worryingly, how many OEMs will get to the point where they just "lock down" the UEFI, and do _NOT_ provide a method to TURN OFF the signed-key requirement?

Oh wait, I forgot.

Some OEMs are already locking the UEFI so that it is NOT POSSIBLE TO TURN OFF 'Secure Boot'!

So there is NO way for you to install another operating system... on YOUR COMPUTER. This is "Trusted Computing" HOW exactly?

At this point, you may still be asking, "Why do I care?" That's a fair enough question. If you only want to run Windows 8, and you only want to run new games, and you never want to run an older version of Windows, then I suppose it doesn't matter to you.

So far, the bulk of the worry and fussing and complaining and venting about this development, has come from those of us who run Linux. But the discontent and furor is spreading.

Things can and will get worse...

A precedent is being set here folks. This is the biggy, the lynch-pin, the keystone.

This is the last step past the slippery-slope in the 'software as a service' chain, to take away the customer's rights, and subvert hundreds of years of established law and legal doctrine concerning ownership of property. "From now on, you don't own nuthin'."

  • This UEFI/Trusted-Computing step removes the capability to run/use software WHICH YOU ALREADY OWN. Forget about the "Used Games" argument. They're finding ways to TAKE AWAY WHAT YOU ALREADY HAVE.
  • This sets the stage for "Forced Updates" which will remove more functionality.
  • "Forced Monitoring" because you nasty little pirating users can't be trusted to do ANYTHING.
  • "Forced Downgrades" of capability, because they decided that you need to PAY THEM AGAIN FOR SOMETHING YOU ALREADY HAVE.

Am I going off the deep end a little bit here? Maybe, but not by much I suspect. It won't get to that extreme--I hope and pray. Eventually a critical mass of complaining and public and political and legal backlash will rip down the "money grubbing empire" that DRM and "Cloudy" schemes and "Trusted Computing" try to establish.

But the questions I have to ask are:

  • How LONG will that take?
  • How BAD will it get?
  • At what point, before the pendulum reverses, will I face potential CRIMINAL PROSECUTION from hacking my OWN, PURCHASED HARDWARE--MY PROPERTY?!? I will have to do this in order to run what I want! Will they classify me as a terrorist?

Before you start laughing at me here, consider some history:

  • Senator McCarthy and the 1950's "Communist Witch Hunts".
  • The FBI and the folks investigated and detained for putting out The Anarchist's Cookbook.
  • The interrogation and near-prosecution of Phil Zimmerman when he released the PGP consumer-level cryptography software.
  • The court case (in Australia I think) where a fellow was found criminally guilty of violating the DMCA, because he provided a service to install mod-chips IN HARDWARE WHICH PEOPLE ALREADY OWNED.

If anyone is curious about more details, here are some helpful links which explain the details and ramifications in greater detail.

Linux Devs working on the UEFI problem,...
Linus Torvalds on Windows 8, UEFI, and Fedora...
Windows 8 "Feature": Secure Boot

Here's a flat out LIE still up on Softpedia, where it's claimed that other OS's and users, "..won't be locked out by UEFI." This is already provably false, as several reviewers have fought with new PC's that do NOT provide the option to turn off 'Secure Boot'.

Softpedia article

Folks, I'm really pissed off at all of this, in case you hadn't noticed. But it requires everyday people like us, a LOT of us, to stand up to this garbage, shoot these businesses the middle finger, and say "NO! We won't accept this!"

So please, PLEASE... vote with your wallets. Send Emails. Sign petitions on forums. Think about what this means, and what it is leading towards.

Ok, I'm done. Off to go play some more Legend of Grimrock. Under WINE. On my Linux box. MY Linux box, NOT THEIRS. Thanks again for reading, and I'll be back soon with the last part of "Randomness and Zero-Sum". Happy Gaming!

Comments

IG-88
Offline
Joined: 12/17/2006
Just the tip my friend...

I'm really not surprised at all to see this happen. With everyone wanting to store everything on the cloud and games and movies going DLC or virtual this and virtual that or whatever, people obviously don't care to own physical "items" anymore. It's the "gotta have it now generation" at its finest. Hell, most people don't even carry cash anymore let alone save up money to buy something. Whip that credit care out 'cause "I gotta have it TODAY!" The masses don't care about freedom or liberties. All they care about is whats convenient and what's in it for them. Being a slave to the lender is the norm, so why not another form of slavery? If we want things to change it's going to take a major fundamental swing in societal thinking. And that ain't gonna happen anytime soon.

We as gamers can all stand up and shake our fists at Microsoft and scream "down with tyranny" all day but the fact is they are going to go where the money is. There isn't enough of us to change their numbers.

For me, classic games are where it's at. There hasn't really been anything to come out since the 16 bit era worth a crap anyway. I have already been taking steps to save the way I play games so that I can play them like they were meant to be played on original hardware. And yes, hardware fails and someday in the far future I probably won't be able to play them anymore, but at the rate things are going will that even matter then?

Bill Loguidice
Bill Loguidice's picture
Online
Joined: 12/31/1969
Random responses
IG-88 wrote:

I'm really not surprised at all to see this happen. With everyone wanting to store everything on the cloud and games and movies going DLC or virtual this and virtual that or whatever, people obviously don't care to own physical "items" anymore. It's the "gotta have it now generation" at its finest. Hell, most people don't even carry cash anymore let alone save up money to buy something. Whip that credit care out 'cause "I gotta have it TODAY!" The masses don't care about freedom or liberties. All they care about is whats convenient and what's in it for them. Being a slave to the lender is the norm, so why not another form of slavery? If we want things to change it's going to take a major fundamental swing in societal thinking. And that ain't gonna happen anytime soon.

We as gamers can all stand up and shake our fists at Microsoft and scream "down with tyranny" all day but the fact is they are going to go where the money is. There isn't enough of us to change their numbers.

For me, classic games are where it's at. There hasn't really been anything to come out since the 16 bit era worth a crap anyway. I have already been taking steps to save the way I play games so that I can play them like they were meant to be played on original hardware. And yes, hardware fails and someday in the far future I probably won't be able to play them anymore, but at the rate things are going will that even matter then?

I think this is overly pessimistic in many, many ways. The bigger picture is that, well, the industry is getting bigger and more expansive, meaning more and more options. There's nothing wrong with convenience either.

No, I don't use credit if I can avoid it, but I do use my check/debit card all the time, which is the same as cash, just not using the stupid, inconvenient paper and metal, which I frankly hate and try to avoid carrying whenever humanly possible. In that case, it's not "gotta have it now," it's not "I should really wait but I don't want to because I don't have to," it's, "there's a better way of doing it." I think the same thing applies to gaming. There's nothing wrong with physical media - it's great - it's yours, there's some security there, but is it really better than being in some accessible-from-anywhere cloud-based location? For most, probably not, because there's no way to lose it, no way to destroy it, etc. Obviously, it's not perfect, because if the company goes kaput, then what you own goes kaput, but that's in only the most extreme cases, and, just as with physical media, nothing is perfect.

Also, to say there's been nothing worth a damn since the 16-bit is way, way over the top, and frankly, ridiculous. There was no better time to be a game than now. We literally have access to everything that has every come before with dozens of ways to access and play them (albeit, some not entirely legal by the strictest definition), while still having access to more new stuff on more platforms every day than any one human could possibly play in a lifetime. How that's not the best possible scenario to day is beyond me.

I'll give a quick example... I've been testing the latest generation of officially licensed Sega Genesis/Mega Drive hardware that will be forthcoming from AtGames. These systems, both console (which plays cartridges in addition to its built-in games) and portable (which plays ROMS off of your own SD card in addition to its built-in games), will be dirt cheap. They both work flawlessly too, with almost 100% compatibility and run the original games with no discernible differences from original hardware. Something like that simply wouldn't be possible if the potential videogame market wasn't as big as it's become. I mean, these things will be sold in drug stores here in the US for less than the price of a new console or PC game. How is that not a perfect example of a good thing in this particular time and place regardless of the type of gamer you are? That's also just one example of many, of course. To keep this with a 16-bit Sega theme, Sega is making all their classic games available on nearly every platform you can imagine, from countless PC game download services, to streaming services, to consoles, to smartphones, to tablets, to stand alone devices, etc. That's all possible because of today's gaming environment. Does it really matter we don't own a single physical copy in those cases when we have every way imaginable to play the games?

n/a
Bill Loguidice
Bill Loguidice's picture
Online
Joined: 12/31/1969
Good article, Shawn.

Good article, Shawn. Obviously, Gabe Newell's comments were a reminder for many to start spouting off about the coming of the Linux desktop yet again, and there are certainly some positive signs in that direction with companies like Dell - out of necessity - soon starting to offer proper pre-configured Linux boxes again. I just don't know if any of it REALLY matters, though. Linux is and likely will remain a niche for a variety of reasons, least of all being that its usefulness is lost on the average person. For the average person, something like a Windows 8 or Mountain Lion box are more than enough. What the technically-minded might see as restrictions (including the whole locked boot-loader thing) are absolutely irrelevant to the masses who just want a system that works with everything with minimal fuss. We may also lament certain losses - or more specifically, changes - in the way things are done, but it doesn't necessarily make them wrong. They're just different.

I meant what I said in my other comment. Now is the best time to be a video gamer, no doubt. There are more platforms in more form factors with more control options than at any other time, and we have access to more classic games, be it official or unofficial, on said platforms, than ever before. This is of course added to the non-stop onslaught of indie games, again, for every conceivable platform, no matter how commercialized it might be (including consoles).

I think one danger we as classic computer and videogame users, those of us approaching or past 40, is to become too stuck in our ways and not appreciate the good that can come from change. Sure, each new changes has its own drawbacks, but let's be fair, stuff in the past sure had their drawbacks too.

n/a
Shawn Delahunty
Shawn Delahunty's picture
Offline
Joined: 08/01/2011
Thanks Bill.

As always, I appreciate the thoughtful comments. I'm not against progress, in fact I _love_ progress. But I just see this whole "Trusted Computing/Secure Boot" gibberish as a step backward toward a feudal-lord mindset--you can farm the land, but you're not allowed to own it anymore. You get whatever we say you can get--until we change our minds.

It's a power-grab by Microsoft, pure and simple--for something that ISN'T theirs. And like Matt, the lying and deliberate misrepresentation angers me.

One point: I don't know if it's clear from the article, but I'm absolutely _NOT_ jumping on the whole "Year of the Linux Desktop" bandwagon. I personally would love to see it, but I don't think it's happening this year or necessarily anytime soon. My usage of Linux is really just an example in this. The real problem is being prevented from multi-booting older versions of Windows or DOS. Couple that with deliberate breakage of backwards-compatibility for older WinXP/2000/98/95-era games (something I'm convinced will happen, to some degree), and you might very well end up with a shelf full of very expensive drink coasters.

I'm also not lambasting "Cloud services" necessarily, if they are used as an adjunct to existing software distribution methods. In that capacity, they have a tremendous value for a specific sub-set of customers. It's when (not if) the abuse of customers start, that things will get ugly.

Oh, and for the record, I really do not like the Win 8 UI layout after having fought with it. If that were simply a default, and one of several that I could switch between, maybe I'd be less aggrieved by it. Parts of it DO work better for a touch-based interface than the classical Windows GUI layout. But only parts of it.

n/a
IG-88
Offline
Joined: 12/17/2006
Good points Bill. Overly

Good points Bill. Overly pessimistic? Perhaps. I agree that there is nothing wrong with convenience. With such a busy life now-a-days we need things to be quick and easy sometimes. But in my opinion being quick and easy most times comes with a later, larger, price.

In my opinion I don't like any of these new gen games. Yes, there are a few, I suppose, I haven't seem them all. But the statement that there is "no better time to game than right now" I think is frankly ridiculous. I think most games now are all flash and no substance. I like the simpler games with the simpler graphics. Seems to me most games now are all buy, play forget. IMHO the best time to game has come and gone.

As far as the cloud vs. physical media. Really? Do you think this "cloud" will be around in 10 yrs? I don't. The servers will shut down as soon as it's not profitable to keep them up.

As for the retro systems that are coming out for dirt cheap. I don't think the current gaming/gamer market has anything to do with it. I think its all the old timers who have the disposable incomes with a yearning for the past who are driving the market. This generation of kids don't care.

Bill Loguidice
Bill Loguidice's picture
Online
Joined: 12/31/1969
OK, but...
IG-88 wrote:

Good points Bill. Overly pessimistic? Perhaps. I agree that there is nothing wrong with convenience. With such a busy life now-a-days we need things to be quick and easy sometimes. But in my opinion being quick and easy most times comes with a later, larger, price.

In my opinion I don't like any of these new gen games. Yes, there are a few, I suppose, I haven't seem them all. But the statement that there is "no better time to game than right now" I think is frankly ridiculous. I think most games now are all flash and no substance. I like the simpler games with the simpler graphics. Seems to me most games now are all buy, play forget. IMHO the best time to game has come and gone.

I always try to make a point to see things from other perspectives, but in this case I'm completely and absolutely flummoxed at your statement. I realize I have access to an abnormal amount of modern platforms, but I'm literally overwhelmed with amazing new games to play, from those created by individuals to the biggest triple A titles, and I can play them on a computer, smartphone, tablet, console, gaming handheld, etc., at my whim. How can now not be the best time, then, keeping in mind I also have easier access to all that came before than ever before? I just don't get it.

IG-88 wrote:

As far as the cloud vs. physical media. Really? Do you think this "cloud" will be around in 10 yrs? I don't. The servers will shut down as soon as it's not profitable to keep them up.

Again, that's talking in absolutes. I think there's a mix of cloud and actual digital file ownership of stuff you can back up, a la the content from GoG. I realize that the industry is moving more towards the former where the risk of something going away becomes real, but we still have options. With that said, it's also safe to argue that we can get games so cheaply now if you're a smart consumer, that's it's a worthwhile risk if one may go away some day, i.e., we can just re-buy it from another service in 10 years or whatever. Not ideal maybe, but again, no situation is perfect.

IG-88 wrote:

As for the retro systems that are coming out for dirt cheap. I don't think the current gaming/gamer market has anything to do with it. I think its all the old timers who have the disposable incomes with a yearning for the past who are driving the market. This generation of kids don't care.

I can tell you for a fact that in the example I gave, they're targeting the mass market, not a niche. Our niche just happens to benefit. They want to sell hundreds of thousands of units, hoping to get into the 7 figures. You don't do that by targeting US, you do that by targeting them. So that's how WE benefit.

n/a
Mark Vergeer
Mark Vergeer's picture
Offline
Joined: 01/16/2006
Cloud...
IG-88 wrote:

....As far as the cloud vs. physical media. Really? Do you think this "cloud" will be around in 10 yrs? I don't. The servers will shut down as soon as it's not profitable to keep them up.

As for the retro systems that are coming out for dirt cheap. I don't think the current gaming/gamer market has anything to do with it. I think its all the old timers who have the disposable incomes with a yearning for the past who are driving the market. This generation of kids don't care.

I think you may be right here. The cloud will only be there as long as it is economically viable, and what if the cloud hits a snag, goes bottom up? You loose all the data.

Besides the metaphor of a cloud is just plain insane if you want to indicate something that is reliable for data storage. I cloud does nothing more than evaporate, obscure from view or empty out uncontrollable. LOL

n/a
Matt Barton
Matt Barton's picture
Offline
Joined: 01/16/2006
Nice article! It wasn't so

Nice article!

It wasn't so long ago that I was hooked on Linux, but only for ideological/philosophical reasons. I read Richard Stallman's stuff and got really into this idea that everything should be free software. Actually, if you read his stuff closely enough, the word "free" isn't what most people think it means there--more like, free to do what you like, not free as in you don't pay for it. Kinda like saying a shovel is "free" because the people who made it won't show up at your doorstep and dictate the ways you can use it. That doesn't mean you can just steal it though.

Anyway, this business with Windows 8 does have me concerned. I'm not usually the first aboard a new platform anyway, so I'll probably do like I usually do and either wait until I get a new PC, or wait until (and if) the reviews are so positive that it seems foolish not to make the leap. The latter is the reason I upgraded my PC from Vista to Windows 7, a decision I in no way regret.

This situation does remind me, though, of the importance of keeping an old PC around for compatibility purposes. I will definitely keep my current PC unless it just absolutely flat-lines, since it has very convenient component outs that I can use to record video from games. It can run just about anything I throw at it. It might be a lot more comfortable just leaving this machine hooked up to my TV and recording video from it when the need arises.

As for the "signed key" or whatever business, that does suck. It's a classic case of a company doing what is good for itself at the expense of its customers. I'm less angry about that than the lies/spin in which they try to sell it as something GOOD for us. I *hate* being lied to. We all know this is utter bullshit, and the only people who would EVER request this "feature" is the corporate execs at Microsoft. As far as I'm concerned, in my naive way, is that Microsoft should only put features into their software that WE want. Make a solid product and we'll buy it, dummies! Make an inferior product and I guess you will have to try to lock us into it.

Maybe they want to avoid an XP/Vista situation where everybody wanted to stick to XP. I believe at one point the big companies (Dell) was charging extra if you asked for XP instead of Vista. It sounds like this will be a lot worse..."Oh, you must buy Windows 8. The machine won't run the obsolete operating system. Why would you want to when Windows 8 is the best operating system ever?" I'm gagging on the bullshit already.

All this said, though, the truth is that nobody is forced to buy Windows. It's only ignorance/greed/laziness that keeps people attached to their suck bottle. GNU/Linux is always there. Sure, it's not going to run everything, at least not without a lot of hassle, but it's one of those situations where the more people use it--and hopefully (probably stupid to think) support it with their donations/contributions--the better it gets.

But it's just not that way. Here I am on Firefox, a "free" browser. Yet what is everybody excited about? "Google Chrome." Because they just can't wait to run back to something controlled by a "trusted company." Uh, okay.

Hey, the sheeple deserve what they get.

n/a
Bill Loguidice
Bill Loguidice's picture
Online
Joined: 12/31/1969
Comments
Matt Barton wrote:

Anyway, this business with Windows 8 does have me concerned. I'm not usually the first aboard a new platform anyway, so I'll probably do like I usually do and either wait until I get a new PC, or wait until (and if) the reviews are so positive that it seems foolish not to make the leap. The latter is the reason I upgraded my PC from Vista to Windows 7, a decision I in no way regret.

Windows 8 has a lot of us concerned. I'm not going to upgrade my most recent PC, certainly. I might consider Christina's 27" Dell all-in-one, or the girls' 24" HP all-in-one, but only because both of those have touchscreens and neither have the same usage patterns as I do. I think Windows 7 has a long life ahead of it because it's likely going to be the last traditional Windows OS unless somehow Microsoft needs to do an about face for Windows 9 (in fact, with Windows 8 purchases, corporations have the option to downgrade to Windows 7, which is an obvious concession for the conservative corporate world). I don't think Microsoft will have to, though. I think Microsoft HAD to make this move - maybe not right now - but certainly for the near term future in order to stay relevant. I think making an OS that works on any form factor is a good strategy, since it's obvious that the Apple's and Google's of the world are stealing market share with alternative devices, which will only increase as those devices become ever more capable at an astounding rate.

I know that my next PC in however many number of years will likely be a Windows 8 box or Windows 9 machine depending upon the timing, but then I'll carefully plan out the design and setup of such a machine. I'm not opposed to the idea of a Windows app store - I certainly appreciate app stores on other platforms - plus you do always have the option of dropping down to the desktop for compatibility purposes. I have no pressing need for the forseeable future now, and certainly not with the hardware I have in place, being my main dual screen desktop or my gaming laptop. In fact, I think my next portable laptop (non-gaming), primarily used for writing purposes and to dip my toes in another OS, is going to be a MacBook Air, also something without a touchscreen.

Regardless, I'm not opposed to the change with Windows 8 and may in fact embrace it sooner rather than later with a Surface Pro tablet (perhaps avoiding the MacBook Air entirely, who knows?), it's just that it's not something for the hardware that's out there right now in most cases. Times change, things evolve, in some ways for the better, is some ways for the worst, but I'm not going to fight it. I'll just embrace it in the right way.

Matt Barton wrote:

But it's just not that way. Here I am on Firefox, a "free" browser. Yet what is everybody excited about? "Google Chrome." Because they just can't wait to run back to something controlled by a "trusted company." Uh, okay.

Hey, the sheeple deserve what they get.

I'm surprised you're still on Firefox. I "famously" (on AA anyway) moved off of Firefox in favor of Chrome quite a while back due to Firefox's incessant memory leaks. It was a tough transition at first, but I must say, using it now on ALL my devices (even though Apple blocks much of its value on iOS), I have no reason to go back. I hate any one company having too much power, but in this case, in Google I trust.

n/a
Matt Barton
Matt Barton's picture
Offline
Joined: 01/16/2006
Hehe, didn't mean to single

Hehe, didn't mean to single anybody out who has switched to Chrome. I'm not objecting to anyone who needs to move to it for technical reasons. I'm more concerned about people who move to it just because they have some kind of blind faith that Google is going to be more benevolent than Microsoft. A for-profit company is a for-profit company. It's a new boss same as the old boss kind of thing; just give them time.

That said, I'm not convinced that Mozilla wouldn't end up just as crummy if they (in a hypothetical scenario, of course) dominated the web browser. If they had, say, 90% of the market cornered, they might start making decisions that are good for their product line and bad for us. Healthy competition is the best situation.

n/a

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Images can be added to this post.
  • You may quote other posts using [quote] tags.

More information about formatting options

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.