Microsoft’s future, part 2

I feel like an archaeologist who just found one of those “missing link” skeletons, because even though I’ve been talking about how Valve’s push for Linux is justified and smart when you consider the potential downfall of Windows, there hasn’t been much evidence to support that fear besides Gabe Newell himself, who you could argue has a conflict of interest.  I need somebody in the tech world who is intimately familiar with Windows, its history, and its politics, who can attest to the problems today — somebody like Paul Thurrott, who asks What the Heck is Happening to Windows?

There are some important bombshells in here as far as I’m concerned, including the fact that Windows 8 was designed by a prominent “Steve Jobs” wannabe who messed it up so bad that it was responsible for restructuring Microsoft itself, including kicking out Steve Ballmer!  (Still believe Don Mattrick’s quitting in the face of the “Xbox 180” fiasco was a coincidence?)


The Xbox 180 reversals and the Windows 8 catastrophe are deeply connected: mismanagement, scattered thinking, poor judgment, and lack of vision in the face of incredibly strong competition.

Whenever I criticize Microsoft, there are those who accuse me of being a Sony fanboy.  The type who hates Microsoft out of some juvenile, Highlander-type “There Can Be Only One” nonsense.  After all, I run a Metal Gear fan site, not a Halo fansite; I complain about the bro culture and Xbox tactics all the time; I seem to go out of my way to pick on bad news when it comes to Microsoft, but I don’t mention Sony’s troubles!  But the truth is, I am mostly a PC gamer, and as I wrote before this new generation started, I want Steam to lead the way of gaming.  I don’t hate Microsoft because it competes with other platforms that I like more, I hate it because it’s evil and it is going to drag down an awesome platform out of pure hubris, unoriginality, and greed, just like they poisoned the console culture with the Xbox brand and billions of dollars in dirty shenanigans.

Speaking of Windows 8, Paul Thurrott gives us insight into the warped mentality inside Microsoft at the time, and the consequences for its failure:

… I had found out from internal sources immediately that the product was doomed from the get-go, feared and ignored by customers, partners and other groups in Microsoft alike. Windows 8 was such a disaster that Steven Sinofsky was ejected from the company and his team of lieutenants was removed from Windows in a cyclone of change that triggered a reorganization of the entire company. Even Sinofsky’s benefactor, Microsoft’s then-CEO Steve Ballmer, was removed from office. Why did all this happen? Because together, these people set the company and Windows back by years and have perhaps destroyed what was once the most successful software franchise of all time.

He goes on to touch on some of the main problems with the jumbled Windows 8 interface, which can’t decide whether it’s a tablet OS or a desktop OS.  This is exactly the same as how the Xbox One can’t decide whether it’s an always-online Kinect media hub, or a next-gen game console meant to be controlled with a controller.

With a new CEO obsessed with chasing iOS with “mobile” and Google with “cloud”, but rejecting “traditional” hardware emphasis, it will be very interesting to see how the half-baked abortion, the Xbox One, fares in such turbulent times, with investors hoping to see the Xbox, Bing, and Surface scrapped since it’s clear Microsoft doesn’t know what it’s doing with any of them… and losing billions every year.

[Here’s a link to the article one more time.]

Steam Machines revealed, but confusion still abounds


If you’re confused about the new lineup of Steam Machines, which range from $500 to a whopping $6,000, you’re in good company.  As I said before in “The Amazing Valve Strategy” Part One and Two, this is a unique and long-term strategy for keeping PC gaming alive and hedging against the possible failure of the Windows platform, not a “monkey-see, monkey-do” attempt to rival the existing console market.

Here’s some reactions I’ve seen already, with my rebuttals:

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The amazing Valve strategy, part 2

[Here is part 1]

So now we know about Steam Machines and the Steam Controller, both of which are in beta testing phase along with the earlier announced SteamOS.  You’re probably confused, so let me try to explain why this makes perfect sense, and why it’s great.


The Steam Controller allows for mouse speed and precision, according to Valve and those who’ve tried it

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The amazing Valve strategy, part 1

In my Next-Gen Hopes article, I mentioned that I hoped the “Steam Box” would ultimately be the winner of the next generation of consoles.  Gabe Newell’s ambition to save PC gaming from the blundering greed of Microsoft is much more important than bragging rights in a “console war” that lasts for a few years and then becomes irrelevant.


SteamOS is a real operating system designed to not only replace your keyboard and mouse with a controller, but do it in a way that looks comfortable at a distance on a big screen.  Here’s why SteamOS is an interesting proposition:

1. As it stands, Steam runs on top of Windows (or Mac, or Linux) which hogs a certain percent of the computer’s power for itself in the background.  But SteamOS wouldn’t run on top of anything, so it uses 100% of the computer’s resources for itself and the games.  This means less waiting for a game to load, less overheating, and more efficiency overall.  Anyone who suffered with Windows Vista knows how big a difference a shitty OS can make when you want to play something.  Of course SteamOS won’t do nearly as many things as Windows does, but why should it?  It’s for games and multimedia, not setting up an office network with a shared printer.

2. Windows has always been an open platform, but Windows 8 is threatening to move toward a “walled garden” system, which is terrible news for PC users.  Right now you or I can create programs for Windows and share them with everybody else, or download stuff freely.  And we take this for granted.  But it seems Microsoft would like to become the one who dictates what is and isn’t acceptable on Windows, which is why SteamOS needs to exist, to be a safe haven for developers who don’t want to bargain with the devil.  100% free.

3. Being designed “for the living room” means the buttons on the screen will be large, simple, and easy to see at a distance.  Steam’s “Big Picture Mode” already does this well, and can be navigated by a gamepad or a traditional mouse/keyboard.  They even have their own on-screen keyboard for typing with a controller, which is… interesting.  The emphasis on “living room” is because people who hook up their PC’s to their TV’s are always squinting and trying to find the cursor, having a super high resolution and tiny interface designed to be seen up close, on a monitor.  It’s about ease of use.  Turn on the system, SteamOS loads up, and suddenly you have access to all your stuff in a clear and cozy display — like a gaming console!


4. Each and every computer running SteamOS is supposed to be able to relay signals to and from your primary gaming rig without actually doing the heavy lifting itself; which means you’ll be playing your PC in another room, wirelessly.  This is a new phenomenon, but an awesome one; the PS Vita will be able to relay the PS4’s signal as well, with minimal latency problems.  Think of it this way: you hook up a tiny, cheap computer to your TV, install the free SteamOS instead of expensive Windows, and when it boots up, suddenly you can play your entire library of Steam games instantly.  (I assume you’d need to have your PC turned on, with Steam application opened and synchronized.)  And because Steam uses cloud storage, you wouldn’t need to even save your game on the cheap device hooked up to the TV, or transfer saves back and forth between your primary gaming rig.  The more next-gen games get ported to Steam, the more silly the tiny catalog and limited functionality of your PS4 or Xbox One are going to look in comparison.

Hardware is another matter, and I’m sure that will be the subject of the next unveiling, in just a day or two!  I want to see what kind of controller they’ll be creating, and how it will stack up to Sony and Microsoft’s gamepads.  I want to see what kind of super-efficient “Steam Box” consoles their partners will develop, and how they’ll be sold.  I want to know everything!

(For the record, I agree with the theory that the third announcement will be the long-awaited Source 2 Engine, which will be 100% free to use, and automatically compatible with SteamOS.  That would be an awesome way to get big developers to develop for SteamOS, that’s for sure.  Of course it should ship along with Half-Life 3!)


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