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Why I Still Use Windows

Manufacturer: PC Perspective
Tagged: windows 8, linux, bsd

Or: the countdown to a fresh Start.

Over time – and not necessarily much of it – usage of a platform can become a marriage. I trusted Windows, nee MS-DOS, guardianship over all of my precious applications which depend upon it. Chances are you too have trusted Microsoft or a similar proprietary platform holder to provide a household for your content.

It is time for a custody hearing.

These are the reasons why I still use Windows – and who could profit as home wreckers.

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Windows 8 -- keep your rings. You are not ready for commitment.

1st Reason – Games

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The most obvious leading topic.

Computer games have been dominated by Windows for quite some time now. When you find a PC game at retail or online you will find either a Windows trademark or the occasional half-eaten fruit somewhere on the page or packaging.

One of the leading reasons for the success of the PC platform is the culture of backwards compatibility. Though the platform has been rumored dead ad-infinitum it still exists – surrounded by a wasteland of old deprecated consoles. I still play games from past decades on their original platform.

Check in after the break to find out why I still use Windows.

To move me to another platform game developers and publishers would need to support an open and community-supported platform which values perpetual compatibility and embraces user control over their content. I chose the PC platform for my games because I value my games – not games in general.

There was a recent technology showcased by NVIDIA which demonstrated full GPU acceleration for virtual machines. This technology is currently part of the enterprise-focused GK110 series of GPUs. We are still a little ways off from this being commonplace on the home desktop but you could easily imagine a future where we preserve the games we value the most in virtualization (or not-emulation, as in the case of WINE) and transition to a Linux future for everything else.

What they can gain:

For publishers with a long-term mindset, it should be pretty simple: everlasting sales on everlasting content.

But what about the publishers who desire huge short-term sales figures? You might have noticed the countless cries for titles which are more challenging and appeal to somewhat of a niche audience. The logic should be simple: some people desire alternatives to what you produce. You are able to make a lot of money on niche content with a long shelf life.

Of course I am not stupid – publishers do not care too much about long-term sales because of their reliance on quarterly financial reports. They need to justify their work to their investors and big sales figures provide that validation.

Ever think that maybe your customers will purchase more of your games if you ignore them less?

Ever think that maybe blockbuster hits will sell better without contempt from the lack of alternatives?

An open platform with a large back catalog enables those smaller niches to be satisfied longer and without any real effort on your part down the road. Heck – Valve and Blizzard figured it out and have even designed services to promote long term sales. Activision (a publisher) did not purchase Blizzard (a developer) – they merged with Blizzard. When a publisher must merge with a developer the developer was doing something right.

September 28, 2012 | 06:32 AM - Posted by Anonymous Coward (not verified)

Nah, Microsoft will reverse direction when the failure becomes obvious. Right now Ballmer and his yesmen are projecting their own reality distortion field inside Microsoft. Microsoft has always been wealthy enough because of Windows and Office to be able to gloss over a lot of bad mistakes and horrible purchases. The Xbox division has been losing money every day since it started, and it only appears to be profitable because of accounting trickery. They've been able to continue messing up with Xbox because their 2 cash cows have kept chugging along. But if they seriously harm the Windows cash cow no amount of accounting wizardry can hide the losses. Ballmer will lose his job and thing will get back to being sane. Not that he cares, his severance package will be the size o a medium city's budget for a year.

September 28, 2012 | 08:32 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

I guess that is really the point of my article. I value things that are intrinsically valuable.

I really could not care who provides the platform to make it happen. Windows, BSD, or Linux (I'd even support Apple except that they are a company who is fundamentally formed to provide the exact opposite of what I want -- a highly managed and quickly deprecated to make future decisions easier) -- whichever serves the needs best gets my support.

Microsoft found a way to make a proprietary platform have -- a decent enough amount of the benefits to be acceptable to me.

Unfortunately now even if they turn around they have proven themselves unreliable -- and Linux has a ridiculous amount of benefits. It might already be too late for me if the other players line up.

October 16, 2012 | 05:35 PM - Posted by swift110 (not verified)

How long do you think this will take? Will there ever be a time when people will wise up as to what is going on?

September 28, 2012 | 07:53 AM - Posted by Jim (not verified)

So I am not a huge fan of the "split" experience of Windows 8 but what exactly are we losing? You don't have to use the windows store. You can install Steam all you want. You can install Photoshop too. What are we giving up? I am not sure why Notch and Gabe are decrying this concept of store. They don't need to be a part of it.

Microsoft is trying to push the full screen apps. I am not really sure why they think PC people want them, I certainly do not. I have hope that I will get used to it though and somehow, some way I can still be just as productive. Ultimately though, Windows is no more closed, there are just new options for people and over time the ones people want will stick around and the others will fade away.

September 28, 2012 | 08:42 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

Correct, Windows 8 is not a bad operating system.

However several design, architectural, and corporate structure choices suggest that Microsoft does NOT want a split Windows design. Everything Windows 7-like about Windows 8 goes through the desktop "App". Cut that out in Windows 9 -- or maybe even a Windows 8 service pack -- and it's only Metro left.

THEN you cannot install Steam. THEN you cannot install Photoshop. THEN you cannot get anything outside of Windows Store and Windows Update -- like Windows RT.

It is looking pretty clear that Microsoft's vision for the future of Windows -- is Windows RT.

If that is their vision -- we either need to snap them out of their daydream or finally give Linux, BSD, or some other open system the chance it deserves. Hell -- the computer revolution should have been based on community-supported platforms from the get-go... it is overdue.

October 16, 2012 | 05:50 PM - Posted by swift110 (not verified)

Thanks so much for saying that! Other operating systems should get the recognition that they deserve. That's why I talked so much about it when I was in school. The concept of " you do what you want to do" is very important to me especially when it pertains to compiuters.

September 28, 2012 | 11:21 AM - Posted by Daedric (not verified)

Good read !

Its not that win8 is particularly broken or unusable .
But they are headed toward a walled garden and trying to pull an Apple .
They want you to adopt metro apps . Later they slowly cripple non-metro app execution. (like preventing non-metro apps from accessing certain core OS features - already done)

Then , one day BAM! In the best interest of users , they remove legacy app support and disallow side loading !

Give me games and drivers on Linux . I'll be gone in a heartbeat :)

September 28, 2012 | 03:35 PM - Posted by aparsh335i (not verified)

Agree - games on linux would be amazing if it was just easy like windows. Double click and play.

September 28, 2012 | 08:44 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

Exactly my thoughts. Hopefully we can either get a soft transition to Linux -- or wake up Microsoft from their dream.

September 28, 2012 | 03:39 PM - Posted by aparsh335i (not verified)

I used win8 Beta early on and it was an absolute DISASTER. I'm on a damn desktop for god's sake, not a tablet. Seriously, it was one of the worst computer experiences, everything takes 10 clicks. I gave up on it and assumed that i must have only used the tablet version - did that get updated?

September 28, 2012 | 08:45 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

The early developer Beta was pretty terrible. Release preview and RTM were actually pretty nice -- RTM slightly moreso. RTM has some glitches with desktop icons at least on multiple monitors where the icon just falls off the edge of any monitor but I assume that will be patched. Otherwise -- it's a great OS.

It's the design that scares me.

September 28, 2012 | 06:28 PM - Posted by Ryan Jones (not verified)

Wine Is Not an Emulator. It is a compatability platform. Tons of games work great in Wine, because they're being run on native hardware. I get a better framerate for Guild Wars on Arch Linux than I do in any version of Windows that can handle it, because I actually need LESS software to run it in Arch.

September 28, 2012 | 08:26 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

Yeah that is what I explained.

(or not-emulation, as in the case of WINE)

I lumped WINE in with the emulators in terms of bringing Windows compatibility to Linux as both WINE as well as emulators will get better in the future. I tried to clearly explain that it was not an emulator per se -- actually by calling it "not-emulation".

September 30, 2012 | 08:53 AM - Posted by JSL

Its easier to lump WINE into the same category as Direct-X is for Windows. Both are translation layers. Wine is simpler, but less polished... Direct X is too polished, and has now gotten bloated (and fragmented in some cases) where years ago, it used to be how wine is now, but now is just another software layer slowing command translation

September 28, 2012 | 08:39 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Maybe I'm just a glass half full kind of guy but I think that win8 is not that bad. It boots faster, runs well even on crappy hardware (my old netbook). And it took me less than 10 min to get a working start button and booting directly to desktop. I have tried some metro apps and they are OK, I don't think MS will commit suicide by transitioning everything to metro. I hope that it's only a gimmick to make people buy their tablets and phones.

September 28, 2012 | 08:57 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

I would hope so too -- but it looks more plausible than I am comfortable with.

It could be just a gimmick -- but Microsoft usually talks up their gimmicks (there was a quote "we bet the company on Zune!") except this time where they have been ridiculously quiet.

Linux only really needs a slight amount of support to be ready for primetime -- and most of that support can be provided by companies with a financial incentive to support it. Some are actively moving in that direction. Some are still standing still. Hopefully they will help build the best damn lifeboat if Windows as we know it sinks past the point of bailing.

September 28, 2012 | 09:21 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Well if that happens I think we would all embrace Linux, as long as gaming is well supported. We don't need more Apples in tech.

September 28, 2012 | 10:35 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

Still, let us make sure as much of what we love as possible is waiting on the other side with open arms.

September 29, 2012 | 12:23 AM - Posted by Bill (not verified)

The problem with Windows 8 is that Windows 7 is perfect, at least to me anyway. Honestly, out of all the things I want to buy or upgrade, Windows 7 is not even on the list. It does everything I need it to do and Win 8, which is nothing more than a touchscreen OS, doesn't tempt me at all. Thanks for making an awesome product (Win 7) and saving me money MS!

October 16, 2012 | 06:09 PM - Posted by swift110 (not verified)

I agree, as much as I use Ubuntu I have used Windows 7 quite a bit as well and it has been a pleasant experience. As a result, I am hoping that it ends up being like XP was and is used for many years to come.

September 29, 2012 | 11:08 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

My big complaint with Win 7 and Vista was the number of processes that would start with default installation of Windows. I hope Microsoft has fixed it as stopping these processes was a head-ache.

September 29, 2012 | 07:00 PM - Posted by Wolvenmoon (not verified)

I believe my "I hate Windows 7" thread on PC perspective's forums speaks for Windows 8 doubly, so I have no comment here.

September 30, 2012 | 08:03 PM - Posted by PhoneyVirus (not verified)

Windows 8 will be the next Vista, everyone is calling it the next Vista 2.0 and I believe them so with that said good luck I just wish I could read one article about windows 8 and not read a dozen negative comments.

P.S You need a new mic man it don't sound all the best but hay just glad to see someone new on the podcast keep up the good work :)

September 30, 2012 | 09:25 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

Heh thanks.

When I get some expenses out of the way I intend on getting set up with a Heil mic.Unfortunately what I also need is better internet. I also need a better voice -- but I cannot exactly buy that.

As for the frequency of negative comments surrounding Windows 8 -- I actually like the OS itself even including the lack of start menu and such.

It is just pretty clear that Microsoft sees the future of Windows to be Windows RT. That is unacceptable.

October 1, 2012 | 06:20 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I just paid $1500+ to upgrade to an Intel hex-core, running Win7 Pro.

My last system was a Q9550 with XP64. It got hammered by a virus last summer. I muddled through with an Athlon 630 that I bought back in 2009, running XP32.

I expected to be able to migrate my apps (3D Max, Maya, ZBrush, Solidworks, & supporting Adobe aps).

NO GO. Maya 64 bit migrated, the 3D Max licensing was somehow incompatible with 'XP compatibility mode'.

AND - Max 2013, should I upgrade from 9 ... Max 2013 has abandoned Reactor, a simulation game engine that made Max 9, my previous rev., a lot of FUN to use.

AND - I am using Agent Ransack as a file manager, because the Win7 file manager is, shall we say, sub-optimal. Just do a search for "Win7 file Manager" to see what I'm talking about.

Long story short - I am re-installing XP64 on the Q9550 and using that.

And I installed a dual-boot on the 3930K system, with Ubuntu, and am working overtime to learn Blender & supporting aps. for mixing rendered images with audio, video editing, etc.

Between Microsoft & Autodesk, I have been given a huge incentive to abandon the Windows world for Linux, and to maintain legacy machines running XP64 and XP32 to take advantage of one of the best revisions of 3D Max, 3D Max 9.

October 3, 2012 | 07:19 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I am %100 ready to move to Linux. Win8 signals a controlled environment I believe no self respecting PC user would describe as beneficial in the long (and short) term. Msft wants to take control of the platform and lock it up. Every time you install an app on the desktop, (never mind the disaster that is Metro) it phones home. It's borderline spyware. How is that okay? If I wanted such a thing I would be a mac user. NO THANKS!

The second Steam is on Linux, I am done. Origin (and thus BF3) won't likely be far behind. And where I go, so goes my entire family, as I support them. Microsoft is inherently a monopolistic company which we've all swallowed because it had our games and was good enough. That argument is basically dead now. I am ready for Ubuntu.

Really Fantastic article Scott.

That's my 2 cents.

October 3, 2012 | 12:00 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

Thanks for the compliment!

The nice thing about linux is that -- pretty much -- anything compatible for one is compatible with the lot of them. And if it isn't it is so close that the community would have *no* problem working around.

October 4, 2012 | 06:15 PM - Posted by TheBradyReport

Nice article Scott. I love linux - for my servers. Running Arch on my main server, and CENT on another. As for desktop OS use, it blows. There is so much work that has gone into making the user experience of Windows (and Mac) something an average person can use, we just forget about it. I'm reminded of that every time a family member calls about something not working on their Windows machine. Another option would be great but honestly I'm happy with running Windows and Mac on the machines I have. The last thing I need is another OS to buy all my apps on. I'd need to win the lotto...

October 25, 2012 | 07:29 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Since I first tried using Windows 8 I asked myself why they forced the metro ui for desktop users. Would it be really wrong to just allow users to switch back to the "classic" Win7 style UI? And maybe 1-2 years later just look at the figures which UI style is preferred by desktop users.

The Win8 core seems to be really nice so far but like Scott I fear that this is just the first step to control the user and software. And if they really go the RT route for future Windows versions I'll just stick with Windows 7 for legacy applications and focus more on my linux machines.

As for compatibility on linux systems:
The more people adapt to linux the more companies and developers will try to support it which in return will make linux more and more attractive for users.

Thanks for the nice article Scott. Hopefully we'll see some of the "big players" in the software industry supporting linux in the future as I, too, would really like to see adobe to offer linux versions.

October 26, 2012 | 12:07 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

+1

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