Week in Tech: Microsoft Loves Desktops, 3D SSDs, AMD

By Jeremy Laird on July 3rd, 2014 at 9:00 pm.

Bit of a mishmash this week while deep and meaningful matters continue to machinate. First up comes news that Microsoft wants your love. Yes, you, the lowly, worthless, mouthbreathing desktop user. Apparently the next significant version of Windows, codenamed Threshold, is designed to win desktop users back. Since there’s actually a fair bit to like about Windows 8 in terms of under-the-hood optimisations that get overlooked thanks to the idiocy of the interface changes, Threshold might turn out to be a very good thing indeed. Meanwhile, ever the SSD innovator, Samsung has now added 3D chip tech to its SSD line up in the shape of the new 850 Pro and with it introduced a rather epic 10 year warranty. Oh, and AMD’s answer to Nvidia’s GeForce Experience software continues to mature…

Remember when new releases of Windows were something to get excited about? Yes, really, honestly a bit exciting. Windows 98 to Windows XP was all good as far as I remember (but then I didn’t hate Windows ME nearly as much as most, so take that under advisement) and moderately invigorating at the time.

Things went really sour with Vista which for me was the biggest disappointment ever, what with its promises of a totally new file management paradigm and a properly scaleable interface. The latter is something we’re still waiting for and feels pretty pertinent right now what with 4K on the up and super fine pixel pixels not jiving well with the desktop part of the Windows 8 interface.

In mitigation, it did have System Restore. Oh, OK…

Anywho, the key point for me is that Window 8′s underlying gubbins feel pretty slick and efficient, so more of that with better attention paid to the desktop interface sounds good.

Microsoft has been gently pedalling backwards in this direction with the various updates to Windows 8, but you can read more here about Microsoft’s alleged plans to ‘win back Windows 7 users’ with Threshold, due out next year.

On to SSDs. Samsung has wheeled out the next big step in flash memory tech with the release of the 850 Pro. Samsung is already at the cutting edge with its triple-level memory in the 840 and 840 EVO drives. Samsung’s new 3D memory is another attempt to deal with the inevitability that process shrinks are getting harder and taking longer.

In other words, as current technology passes through 20nm or so, it seems Moore’s Law (the assumption that the number of transistors inside a given area of computer chip doubles roughly every two years) is beginning to slow down. And that means something else must be done beyond simply shrinkage to keep prices falling and densities increasing.

For those who want a deep dive, you can read about the technicalities here. But the elevator pitch involves building chips in three dimensions – stacking transistors, so to speak, instead of merely arranging them as a flat, two dimensional circuits.

After TLC comes 3D: Samsung keeps upping the SSD ante

Intriguingly, by using a stacked process, Samsung has been able to chill the product process out to 40nm. And as we know, class, coarser processes tend to have better NAND cell longevity. So the result is both greater density and longer life. And that means a 10 year warranty, albeit it notionally limited to 150TB of traffic. Yay.

On the other hand, it’s a little surprising to note that the new 850 Pro is merely a SATA drive and not one of the funky new M.2 or SATA Express efforts. But 3D SSDs based on those new interfaces are surely on the way. Fun, fun, fun.

The Samsung 850 Pro is out later this month. Prices are circa £145 / $199 for the 256GB version, so not cheap, but this is a premium model for now. Expect the 3D thingamies to percolate out to cheaper drives in time.

Finally, AMD has been hawking its latest and most refined version of the Gaming Evolved Client. It’s basically AMD’s copycat take on Nvidia’s GeForce Experience utility. The idea is a platform to help manage your drivers and game optimisations. GeForce Experience is particularly helpful if you simply can’t be bothered to work out the best settings to suit a given game with a given graphics card.

There’s more than a whiff of Nvidia GeForce Experience in AMD’s Gaming Evolved…

You’ll always get a better result hand-tuning these things, but GeForce Experience’s can’t-be-arsed-or-don’t-know instasettings are far, far better than nothing. I haven’t had a chance to have a really detailed look at AMD’s Gaming Evolved Client, so I’d rather not pass judgement. But crowd sourcing is part of AMD’s optimisation mix, which generally bodes well.

AMD’s GEC isn’t a feature we’ve mentioned before so it’s worth noting that since its initial appearance in beta form about six months ago, work has been ongoing with the latest update including a hardware accelerated gameplay recording and broadcast feature.

Again, it’s a bit of a rip off of an Nvidia feature, namely Shadowplay. But so what? If you have an AMD graphics card and you haven’t given it a try, you can download it here, gratis.

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93 Comments »

  1. pilouuuu says:

    Why if Microsoft likes selling its OS to us so much, hates to allow gaming on that same OS?

    They don’t release games on it, unless they’re 10+ years old, they pay developers to release games only on its console toy box, they put down the servers on their online games and they created that abomination called Games for Windows Live.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Because they’re a huge company made of separate departments that don’t play ball together, so trying to anthropomorphise them as a single entity will pretty much guarantee that it appears to be a deranged schizophrenic.

      Thankfully, it’s also an open platform, so we can play games published by literally anyone else on it.

      Maybe one day they”ll snap out of calling said open platform “legacy”.

      (And give us our 3D affordances and subtle visual interest back, when this flat design fad becomes legacy.)

      • FriendlyFire says:

        If you check out Android L, you’ll notice it’s quite a departure from KitKat in terms of visual style. Depth has been reintroduced, including even *gasp* drop shadows and gradients. I’m expecting that this might just make Apple and Microsoft swerve into that direction as well.

        • Crafter says:

          Android L is not that much of a departure from kitkat.
          Don’t get me wrong, it is an huge improvement and as both an user and a dev I am all giddy with anticipation.
          It does takes its roots from the 4.x design and keep some of its principles.
          Among them, the idea that our brains have been wired by evolution in order to recognize shapes and reliefs.
          This is why in Android, buttons have the shape of something that you can actually push.

          4.x was already using shadows in order to translate this, L is ‘just’ supercharging that idea by backing shadows directly into the platform APIs.

          I doubt it will have an influence on iOS or Windows. It will however lead to awesomeness for Android apps :)

      • dsch says:

        Didn’t you hear? Corporations are people now, with coherent religious beliefs.

      • Consumatopia says:

        3D affordances make sense for mice, because they have clicky buttons.

        For touch screens, your fingers are going to be sliding across smooth glass anyway, might as well make them look as flat as they feel.

        • LionsPhil says:

          3D affordances make sense for showing you which areas of the screen you can click.

          That is actually their primary purpose; looking pretty is secondary (if nice). Something that’s raised up looks like you can poke it down again to make a thing happen. It affords clicking/tapping.

          • Consumatopia says:

            They never look pretty. On a mouse-driven interface they’re not so bad because at least the things that look clickable are actually clickable, but on a touch screen nothing is clickable.

            As far as usability goes, there’s a tradeoff between affordances and legibility. Imagine if every link in a web page looked like a 3d button. It would be a gross mess. 3d affordances add a lot of visual information that makes it difficult to read text or scan for a piece of data you’re looking for. That’s not just in documents, but even in panels of icons –there’s a reason they make those buttons where the 3d outline of the button only shows up when you mouse over it’s icon. There are other ways to indicate that something is clickable/tapable. I use a Windows Phone (it was cheap), and I can’t think of any time I was confused as to whether something could be tapped.

      • phuzz says:

        People do tend to forget quite how big Microsoft is as a company. Some bits of it are committed to making really good, useful software. Other parts of microsoft are the money grabbing bastards you expect. It’s not just a simple ‘they’re all bastards’ though.

    • fish99 says:

      Well they do get a cut every time you buy an xbox game, whereas they get nothing when you buy a PC game. Even when you factor in buying your PC OS (assuming you didn’t pirate it) they’ll still make a lot more money from you on console.

    • DanMan says:

      They don’t profit from games directly like they do on XBox. Their only stake in gaming is DirectX. A Windooze only API to make sure we gamers don’t go flirting with other, more sexy OS.

    • Megakoresh says:

      The answer is as always: $$$.

      And they won’t be able to compete with Steam. Unless you have control over hundreds of games per year (i.e. publish a ton of high quality games yearly), you can’t hope to compete with Steam and make money off games on PC without actually making said games to begin with. Or you could try, but… Well, you can surely elaborate what (rightful) reaction will be to that.

      And Microsoft are definitely not a “passion-driven” company. They do not have an ounce of that. They are driven exclusively by the desire to make as much dosh as possible and as far as games go, they will always be making more on Xbox. Thanks and praise do not associate with dosh in the minds of the decision makers at Microsoft.

      • soldant says:

        Every business is primarily driven by making money! If they aren’t making money, they’re not going to be around to stay in business! Gaming is not a charity. You think Valve do everything out of the kindness of their hearts? Hell no, Valve are out to make money, just like every other business that ever was or ever will be. SteamOS has lots of ancillary benefits for gaming but the primary plan is to ensure Steam’s dominance, and if it actually had a hope in hell of knocking Windows off the top spot for gaming, it’d further cement Valve’s grip on gaming.

        It’s not a crime for a business to be motivated by money.

        • FriendlyFire says:

          In fact, in most countries, corporate law stipulates that the board of directors must act in the best interest of the shareholders, which generally means making money. By not making money, many corporations would therefore be violating their agreement with their shareholders.

          Valve is the exception to this rule in that they’re not publicly traded, but I’m pretty sure Gabe still loves money.

          • MattM says:

            Failing to make short term profits might get a board booted by the shareholders, depending on who they are, but its very rare for shareholders to successfully sue the board for malfeasance. It only happens when they are actively falsifying reports or embezzling money and even then they get away with it pretty often. There is plenty of legal latitude for the board to pursue long term profits at the expense of the short term and work to improve their companies public perception.

          • FriendlyFire says:

            But that’s a false dichotomy. Most corporations will try to make money while keeping their reputation afloat or increasing it. All I was saying is that a company’s purpose is to make money, not to make whatever product they’re making (be it games or whatever else), and that the law is worded such that they need to keep that in mind at all times.

          • Nate says:

            This seems a version of an idea I hear frequently– that CEOs are legally obligated to maximize shareholder profit– that is untrue, at least in the US.

            First link I found regarding it: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/harold-meyerson-the-myth-of-maximizing-shareholder-value/2014/02/11/00cdfb14-9336-11e3-84e1-27626c5ef5fb_story.html

            Acting in the best interests of a group of owners is pretty broad. For instance, consider Apple’s Cook’s dismissal of conservative anti-environmentalists. Prosocial concerns are perfectly acceptable interests of the owners. In fact, prosocial concerns are sometimes enshrined in mission statements, in which case ignoring them is acting against the best interests of the owners.

            But you can find plenty more, if you’re interested.

          • Kittim says:

            Valve is the exception to this rule in that they’re not publicly traded, but I’m pretty sure Gabe still loves money.

            And PIE!

    • SuicideKing says:

      Well, they may be re-releasing Halo CE, Halo 2 and Halo 3:

      http://steamdb.info/app/216800/subs/

      Search for “Halo”, you’ll find the other 2 listed as unknown apps.

  2. captain nemo says:

    In the past year I’ve got to grips with Linux Mint (after a couple of tests on external hdds).
    It’s like Windows 7. It satisfies the base needs (word processor, spreadsheet).
    It’s getting better at covering gaming.
    It has long term support.

    LInux is my future. I do not want to be locked into a Windows App Store.
    Adios Microsoft.

    • FurryLippedSquid says:

      I really can’t be arsed getting to know Linux, it still sounds like a complete ball-ache. Maybe Steam OS will go some way to massaging my balls.

      • captain nemo says:

        Linux Mint is a pretty smooth experience once you get used to it. I went down a wrong path early on trying to install it to a usb stick, which was not great because write speeds are too slow. An ext HDD works fine. When my beloved Win7 bites the dust at some point in the future, I can see Linux being my main OS.

        Something clicked for me when I read the heading of ‘DistroWatch’ (http://distrowatch.com/), where the banner states ‘Putting the fun back into Computing’. Try stuff. Throw away what you don’t like. It’s free.

        A closed windows (or Apple) eco-system is the polar opposite of why I love technology

        • FurryLippedSquid says:

          And, honestly, how long did it take you to get to a Windows level of familiarity with it?

          • captain nemo says:

            A couple of months I guess, to get to a basic level (in the evenings/when I get some time to mess around).
            I’ve now got several games working in VirtualBox (running XP), and I recently used CloneZilla to clone one of my Mint HDDs.

            Sure, it can be a pain initially, but it’s kind of an investment in the future

          • subedii says:

            Depends on what you’re looking to do on a general basis. It was fairly intuitive to me to be honest. There’ll be some trial and error but most of the stuff you see in windows has its equivalent. Start Menu is the “Places” menu (same function, same location), Control Panel is “System Settings” etc. etc.

            Browsing the net, making documents, watching movies, that’s all pretty much installed by default (Firefox, LibreOffice and VLC (I think, it might be something else) respectively).

            Other than that, there’s the Software Manager which allows you to access what could be described Mint’s equivalent of the App store. Instead of hunting around online for applications like VLC and running a separate installer, you can typically do it all here.

          • LionsPhil says:

            Honestly, I wish Zero Install would just take over the world already. The design, at least, merges the openness of “if you can put a file on the Internet, you can publish software for this platform” with the centralized convenience of updating/relative control of cleanup of package management.

        • Hammer says:

          I absolutely sympathise with your position, but until people can get the same conveniences in Linux that they can with Windows, ‘Nix is going to stay niche. I believe that most folks – especially those without time or the tech knowledge – want to get gaming as quickly as possible if they are going to, without having to use virtual machines.

          It’s why Steam OS and even just the growing number of linux games on Steam are so important, because they take things much closer to one click install and play. Now, just need Nvidia and AMD to make sure their drivers for Linux are as solid as the windows ones and it should be good to go.

          • Sakkura says:

            Most people can get the same convenience in Linux as in Windows.

            Most people are not “serious” PC gamers.

            Unfortunately, “serious” PC games are probably the biggest problem area for Linux. Drivers, porting, all that. It seems to be getting better, but it’s still definitely not on par.

    • subedii says:

      Similar. I was kind of surprised to see something close to 1/4 of my Steam games were already Linux compatible. Granted I lean heavily on the “indie” side of things, but still.

    • TormDK says:

      No, it is much better to be locked into GabenOS, amirite?

      • FurryLippedSquid says:

        Remains to be seen, but his hatred of closed systems is well documented.

        • mattevansc3 says:

          So well documented that he created a closed store that has gotten more closed the further its expanded and now wants to push an OS based on that closed platform.

          For all the good Gabe has done PC gaming he is one hell of a hypocrite.

          • subedii says:

            I believe he’s already said that Steam’s going to be opening up for everyone to put their games on. Funnily enough, whilst Steam’s been expanding in that general direction recently, all I’ve seen is complaining about it.

            And SteamOS isn’t going to be closed.

            That said, whilst I’m interested in seeing how SteamOS pans out, in terms of community / game systems, I’m more interested in seeing how GOG Galaxy shapes up. That one came out of left field for me, and if I can run Galaxy on my SteamOS, I suspect I’m going to be largely happy.

          • FurryLippedSquid says:

            Steam’s a delivery system, not an operating system. At the end of the day, you can add your non-Steam games to Steam if you wish, even illegal ones, so it’s not entirely a closed system. I know where you are coming from though, and I hope Steam OS will be a damn sight more open than Steam itself.

          • Baines says:

            subedii, Gabe/Valve want to open up Steam as a store API because they don’t seemingly don’t actually want to do the work of running Steam themselves. That, and they want to distance themselves as far as possible from potential legal responsibility involving products sold through Stream.

            It isn’t because Gabe believes in an open world or anything. It is a combination of business decisions.

          • subedii says:

            They’re running Steam just fine. The problem is that as they move to have more and more games on there, there’s no practical means of vetting every title to be included.

            As for legal responsibility, I’m not sure I see how it’s any more or less under that scenario than it is now, at least in terms of any currently established law that I’m aware of (which admittedly, is scant knowledge in general).

            Whichever way you choose to view it however (and I agree it’s a business decision), the net result appears to be the same.

          • jalf says:

            I believe he’s already said that Steam’s going to be opening up for everyone to put their games on.

            Windows is open for everyone to put their games on too.
            Is that really the bar that you want Steam to meet? At some unspecified point in the future, it will become as open (at a 30% cost to developers) as Windows is today (at no cost to developers). That’s all you require? You consider that to be progress?

          • subedii says:

            Windows is open for everyone to put their games on too.
            Is that really the bar that you want Steam to meet? At some unspecified point in the future, it will become as open (at a 30% cost to developers) as Windows is today (at no cost to developers). That’s all you require? You consider that to be progress?

            Steam is a storefront that includes a built in complete multiplayer back-end, community system, stat tracking and a few other really significant features for devs.

            SteamOS is going to be an operating system (like Windows), and will be open for anyone else to put their own storefronts / systems on it, just as they do with Windows (hence also my comments about GOG Galaxy, I’m pretty sure I was being clear there).

            You are comparing two very different things. But you already knew that. Or perhaps you’d rather compare Steam with MS’s GFWL system (incidentally, MS are saying they’re not killing it off now) for a more apt comparison. Which, by all means, please proceed.

      • LionsPhil says:

        In fairness to SteamOS, at least in the beta, it was pretty much just Ubuntu underneath, and getting to the underneath seemed a supported, expected thing for you to do.

        If there’s irony, it’s that it was almost Windows 8-ish with its split of regular old open platform desktop mode and big-swishy-interface curated-store one-thing-at-a-time Steam mode.

    • Likethiss says:

      “Putting the fun back into Computing” Is a very fitting motto for all linux distros. Getting familiar with the OS took only some 10 hours or so. After that you know how to do pretty much anything you’d want. And with the Playonlinux software gaming is a breeze. I havent encountered one game yet that didnt run as well as it did in windows. It has come a long way in a couple of years. So i would recommend everyone to just bite the bullet and install one of the many linux variants!

      • Press X to Gary Busey says:

        +1 for PlayOnLinux.
        It’s also good for “legacy gaming” when older Windows games just refuse to work with newer versions. A recent experience was several hours of trying to get Jedi Knight from Steam to run in Win 8. PlayOnLinux just took 5 minutes of setting up a generic profile with the wizard and moving the game to the right folder.

      • fish99 says:

        I’ve already paid for Win7 though and I already know how to use it, so I don’t see much incentive to switch to Linux at the moment, even if everything were to work (which presumably it won’t).

      • Stardreamer says:

        10+ hours to become familiar with Linux? That’s more than a little disingenuous! You can swiftly pick up the principles of navigating and using the OS, true, but if you’re coming from 10 or even 20 years of Windows usage you have a much deeper understanding of that OS and its work-flows that you will simply have to painfully re-learn in Linux.

        Once you progress beyond just using Linux and decide to start customising the system a little – even in terms of installing new software – that’s when Linux reveals itself to be a very different, and often more awkward beast to use and maintain than Windows.

        I used several different flavours of Linux over a period of three years and never felt like I got even close to the depth of comfort I enjoy in Windows. Yes, a lot of the problems are from the wider industry – poor driver support, lack of world-class, cutting edge software – but Linux itself is still a mess of competing standards and configurations and technologies that are anything but user-friendly. The Linux community can still be a huge pain to deal with as well. Their pride in their technical prowess and evangelical desire to spread that prowess to others can mean being told to work stuff out yourself rather than get the patient support you often need.

        I don’t mind Linux. I’m glad it exists and have had lots of funs with it (Compiz!) but let’s not give the false impression that it’s a drop-in Windows replacement.

    • Tom Walker says:

      Yup, that’s the way I’m going too.

      I’ll wait for Windows 7 to go unsupported though, which gives me over half a decade. It also gives Microsoft that time to give us the traditional desktop paradigm back and ditch all the compulsary, privacy-invading usage reporting that they’ve introduced with Windows 8.1.

      • pepperfez says:

        Compulsory? Seriously? That’s ballsy even for MSoft. I’d think the goodwill from vocally cranky internet types would be more than worth those dozen sets of data.

        • Jazzyboy says:

          No, it is not compulsory. Tom doesn’t know what he’s talking about. You can easily disable usage-reporting in Windows 8 via the settings menu. It’s as easy as unchecking a checkbox. I’ve checked network stats after doing so, and it doesn’t seem like any MS background applications are uploading anything.

          • Stardreamer says:

            Welcome to the “Windows 8 Criticism” experience. 9 times out of ten it’s ill-informed hysteria. Le siiiigh.

  3. newguy2012 says:

    Hopefully Microsoft comes to its senses and makes a decent OS again. And please give us some decent games, Halo collection on Steam would be awfully nice.

    I fear the world of Linux and Gabe.

    • LionsPhil says:

      I don’t fear the world of Linux, it just depresses me that it’s a possibility that Linux will finally “win” over Windows because Windows commits suicide.

      If the Year of Linux on the Desktop comes, I want it to be because I never have to swear at pulseaudio again, or have any deviation from the default config lead to upgrades stopping halfway through while dpkg asks me which version of a config file I want to keep*. Because there’s a block-level full-system lazy-cleanup/slack-space system snapshotting system which also doubles as a backup solution. Because it can precache worth a damn. Because it can handle memory exhaustion more gracefully than degrading into churn then exploding. Because all of these things are not “oh, well, you can install this and follow these instructions and it might work, at least until the next dist-upgrade, but if not patches welcome”, but tested, default shipping state. Because because because.

      And the worst part is that where motions are happening to “modernize” the Linux world, they’re killing its UNIX-ness. Wayland, right? Gotta be better than X. Well, yes, probably…except that the window manager isn’t separate any more, it’s part of the display manager. The old slicey-dicey separation-of-concerns do-one-thing-and-do-it-well swap-out-whatever-you-want, gone.

      I want Windows to keep being credible competition.

      (*Yes, I do understand this, before the patronising “you should learn about computers if you want to use them, it’s totally rewarding” crowd shows up. My dayjob includes a custom Debian-packaged Linux distro, and I have been up to my armpits in it. That doesn’t mean I want to be dealing with it outside of work. I have a very, very low pissing-around tolerance these days.)

      • drinniol says:

        So… You want Mac OS X? :P (don’t hit me)

        • LionsPhil says:

          Time Machine isn’t block level. ;)

          (Which sounds like it doesn’t matter, until you have a several-GB VM for running old games, and every time you boot it up a few bytes within it change.)

      • subedii says:

        To be honest, I feel that a lot of the problems you’re describing are chicken-and-egg things. That they’re likely to become more and more distant with greater adoption and greater need to adapt.

        Whilst it’s true that MS on desktop is its own worst enemy at the moment, a lot of recent developments Linux-side, particularly with regards to support from Nvidia and AMD, appear to have been heavily influenced by the fact that Valve is making this push and they’re expecting that the increased adoption will make their efforts worthwhile.

        Similar for software. I never would have expected that Witcher 3 would be announced for SteamOS (and Linux in general, but they seemed to make a point of mentioning SteamOS IIRC). Similar with Firaxis upcoming games. And Creative Assembly. Get one of the major publishers on-board like 2K and then you’ve got some serious momentum going.

      • DrMcCoy says:

        Well, you can just remove pulseaudio altogether and run everything directly on ALSA. I’ve been doing that since nearly always (because before, I was using OSS directly).

        I never liked pulse, it was always in my way, prevented me to control the soundcard like I wanted and added latency. Also, I have a hate-on for Lennart Poettering. :P

        And don’t even start me on systemd. One of the reasons I’ll migrate to Gentoo on my main machine as soon as I have money to upgrade. Mainly because of the HDDs; my weird setup of three partitions (2 of them LUKS’d) inside LVM spanning two HDDs is not exactly conductive to reinstalls. Also, I want to re-merge /home/ and /data/.

        As for Wayland… I hope I can still run e16 when it takes over.

    • P.Funk says:

      What rational excuse is there to fear Linux?

      • DanMan says:

        FUD. And Linus Torvalds, of course.

      • SominiTheCommenter says:

        It’s not Windows. That alone scares many people.
        Remember, status quo is God.

        • FurryLippedSquid says:

          Exactly. I was brought up on DOS and Windows. I excel at them. I don’t wish to learn a new language at this later stage of my life. That would be tiresome for someone like me, exciting to others perhaps, but not me.

          I’m pretty good at English and passable at French, I have no desire to spend my time learning Mandarin.

          • ix says:

            You totally should. Mandarin is awesome. (though I must say as a native Dutch speaker, it’s not easy)

        • Rise / Run says:

          Yeah, but frankly most people just see (e.g.) the Firefox icon, click it, and are oblivious to what OS they are running. If you skin your Linux to look like OSX, many Mac people will think it’s a Mac, if you skin it to look more windows-ey, many people will think it’s running an MS product. Just don’t tell them it’s Linux, and they won’t be scared.

          Or at least that’s been my limited experience.

          I’d also say that at work I have some devices that must run their stupid proprietary software on WinXP, which is wonderful, because it is no longer supported, and is therefore blocked from the greater internet by the Powers that Be. Thankfully, that greatly reduces the amount of porn surfing done.

          • Emeraude says:

            Yeah, my parents have been using a custom-configured Linux machine for the best part of ten years and are still none the wiser for the most part.

            Main issue was with cellphone connectivity. This has proven troublesome.
            The complete lack of third support from the general market is the biggest issue, not the OS itself as far as I can tell.

        • Stardreamer says:

          It’s NOT just status quo.

          Linux is different and often more awkward to use than Windows. If people can hate the way Android phones work after coming from Apple devices – how on earth do you expect them to adjust to man pages, bash commands and config file hacking?

          • P.Funk says:

            The funny thing is that its not harder to use though. Frequently its easier. Windows is obtuse in many respects but people have internalized how to deal with those things. Above someone who claims to have grown up on DOS doesn’t want to learn a new language, but using commands in Linux is much closer to DOS than using Windows 8 which wants you to give up your mouse and keyboard altogether.

            It was a rhetorical question though. I know what the answer is. When Firefox was just becoming the new thing I kept trying to get my best friend to try it. We were probably late teens at that point, can’t remember exactly. Anyway we gamed a lot, we tried new things, but he would not change over from IE. He wouldn’t even install it in parallel.

            “I’m comfortable with what I have” he said and I kept saying “Its the exact same interface, but you get tabs and stuff, and its more secure” and all kinds of marketing stuff. Nope, he wouldn’t try it. Then one day for whatever reason he did and suddenly its all “omg this is the best browser ever”.

            People are dumb. No wonder Youtube and Google treat their users like children and have long term plans to wean them onto new interfaces.

          • ix says:

            People will switch over if the market moves that way. (I don’t think it will, but let’s say) Whether some things require you to know what a config file is and how to edit it is really irrelevant either way. There are similar arcane things you can do and sometimes have to know in Windows, but that hasn’t stopped it from becoming the predominant OS. I’d argue, for instance, that OS X is miles ahead of Windows 7 or 8 in many aspects barring file system support (WTF HFS), yet it hasn’t taken over the market. That’s because above a certain level of competence what matters is a combination of network effects and cost, not ease of use or technical superiority.

      • FriendlyFire says:

        What, you mean Richard Stallman doesn’t scare you?

  4. Bahlof says:

    I placing my bet now to say that everybody is going to hate Microsoft’s OS after Threshold.

    • FurryLippedSquid says:

      Even Microsoft?

      It is baffling why they would alienate the majority of their market, businesses. Why would any company switch to 8 when XP, 7, and even 98 are still pretty much perfect for their needs?

  5. Lemming says:

    Was there some kind of comment-apocalypse in the AoE: Online article that I missed? Bit of an odd choice for closed comments, otherwise.

    • Vendae says:

      Nah, having reader feedback and discussion on your articles is so 2012. No comments about AoE:Online, no comments about segregated eSports leagues. It’s more fun that way.

      Jk. Or maybe not.

      Edit: Oh, and no comments for The Wolf Among Us either. This is plain weird.
      Edit: They have enabled comments again.

  6. MkMax says:

    If Microsoft’s big idea for winning over win7 users is putting a true start menu back they have a long way to go, i have that already … in windows 7

    also since i have to use windows 8.1 at work ive gotten used to make my own start menu with folders and icons on the desktop, i barely even use the start menu anymore at home because of that (oh and the more i use win8 the least likely i am to switch, it works worse, the whole “uses less ram” is a load of BS, i had the explorer freeze with some pendrives requiring an annoying reboot and every time i have to reboot into the “let me install the goddamn driver” mode i hate it a little more)

    Ive also been using linux at work (since its the best way to work with embedded devices such as the rasberry pi) and i have to say that for office applications it just works, i would install Mint on anyone wanting an “office/browser” machine without a thought
    they still need some work going further than that tho, while getting into the settings is generally the same or better than windows there is a distinct lack of wizards and ambiguous or unhelpful icons/ program names/tooltips/help text, i end up having to google “how do i do X in linux” a lot and your average user would never get that far, the way the file system works is also something that your average user would just go “WTF?!” at, im not sure hiding the shell from the user is the right idea anyway, it only makes having to use it (which they will, eventually, since googling “how do i do x in linux” usually takes you to “oh yeah just paste these super long 5 lines of gibberish in the terminal”) so much worse

  7. soldant says:

    I hear a lot of good things about Linux but here’s the thing – most of what Linux does I can already do in Windows, except with much better third party support, less screwing around, and no learning curve. I’ve been using Windows (and before that, DOS) since the early 90s, so there’s no way I’m going to shift to another OS that provides zero tangible benefits over my current Windows setup, except that it’d set me backwards in some ways.

    Nobody has yet raised a true tangible benefit for why I should use Linux and turn my back on most of the software that I’m comfortable with using. The fact that it doesn’t cost me to use it doesn’t offset having to uproot myself from the environment I’m familiar with. Most of the benefits people cite expect Linux to turn into something that it currently isn’t – and I’ve been hearing of the Coming Linux Uprising since Windows XP. It still hasn’t happened.

    • Stardreamer says:

      +1

      I’ve given Linux a fair go but what you’ve described is the reality of the situation. When it can take six months to even upgrade to a new version of Firefox (and trying to install the latest one yourself, if you can figure out which of the poorly documented install methods it’s using, may not even work with your particular kernel configuration or distro’s particular customisations) that’s when you realise that Windows still has the clear lead. There’s simply a wider range of better software on Windows and that’s not just talking about the big boys that’s including the small tools you find that revolutionise your workflows or fulfill some niche need. Linux may have lots to choose form but rarely is it at the best-in-class level you get in Windows.

      Yes, that’s not the fault of Linux itself (although the install-pain definitely is) but it’s something to consider. What applies for Gamers on Linux applies equally, if not more so, to general software.

      And that’s just ONE way in which Linux fails to match Windows.

    • RaveTurned says:

      Fear change. Hate the new. Learn nothing.

      • Harlander says:

        All change is always for the better. Everything new works optimally in all situations. Throw away your tools which work. Remember nothing.

        • RaveTurned says:

          How do you tell whether a new thing is better or worse than the old thing for your needs? You try the new thing out.

          OP seems to be refusing to try the new thing out, in spite of hearing good things about it, because the old thing is familiar and comfortable. With that mindset, it’s a wonder he moved on from DOS.

          • All is Well says:

            No, OP is obviously saying that replacing the old with the new involves a malus, because you have to get acquainted with the new in order to use it as efficiently as the old, and that the benefits of this particular new thing aren’t sufficient to warrant a switch. He/she states that they aren’t going to switch to an OS that does not provide any real benefits over the one they are using, implying that they would switch if there were such benefits.

          • RaveTurned says:

            Asking again – how is he in a position to judge what the benefits are (or aren’t) without getting acquainted with it first?

          • All is Well says:

            Assuming you’re replying to me, that’s not really relevant to what I was saying – I was objecting to your interpretation of the OP’s post. But since you’re asking:

            First off, we can’t quite be sure that soldant hasn’t actually used Linux. From what they said we can only surmise that they aren’t entirely acquainted with it and don’t use it as their main OS. It’s entirely possible that they’ve tried it.
            In any case, first-hand experience isn’t the only source of information. There is probably a lot of documentation on any given OS listing benefits and problems as well as people who’ve tried it and can give an account of what it’s like. Given that we’re on a site that frequently features game reviews, I’m sure you understand this concept.

      • fish99 says:

        “Fear change. Hate the new. Learn nothing.”

        I don’t use an OS to learn, I just want it to sit there in the background as unobtrusively as possible and let my apps, games and hardware work as intended. I don’t switch my PC on to use Windows.

    • MkMax says:

      I cant let that pass, Linux has excellent support, there are tons of places where you can post a question and you will get an useful answer and even without that i have never had any problems i couldnt solve with 2 minutes of googling, it took longer to find out how to turn off Metro and install unsigned drivers on windows 8 than anything i had to do in Linux

      there are pretty obvious advantages, its free, its open meaning you can customize at your leisure, (you dont like a particular part of the OS ? there are likely 10 alternatives to it, change it), its far less taxing on the hardware (windows 7/8 runs like crap in your old laptop/box ? unbuntu or mint would run flawlessly) and there are many more, but the overall main advantage is that you keep control over the system, where with microsoft we are quickly losing it as they chase behind apple and google

      the learning curve thing is biased, windows has a huge learning curve as well, its just that you already went through it, greater control over the OS sadly comes with greater complexity here is where the customer base splits up, those that want control and to truly own their PCs over those that want things pre-chewed for them and dont care corporations owning their devices and choosing for them

    • sophof says:

      Linux has the potential to be better at everything, it is free, it is open, you can pick and choose. Its only problem is its adoption rate, I don’t understand how people can use that against it. I understand how that can stop people from switching, it is the exact reason i use windows myself, but it is not exactly a fault of Linux.

      Also, learning to work with Linux is not some hypothetical question, many many people learn to work with Linux all over the world. Many companies use it all the time, it has been clearly shown to not be a big deal. People like to make up their minds before they try it, that is all.

      Just to be clear, Linux comes with its own hornet’s nest of problems, that is obvious, but there is no rational reason why a close, proprietary OS would be magically better.

  8. Lion Heart says:

    make halo on pc not bad and ori not windows 8 only then ill beleive you microsoft

  9. particlese says:

    Why all this Windows/Linux blather when there’s THREE DEEEEEE ESS ESS DEEEEEE to be talked about? 3D is the future, dontchaknow. The only thing I’m worried about is that since SSDs have no read/write head, head tracking can’t be used for added immersion. My bet is they’ll eventually figure out how to waterproof them to fill that void.

    • Sakkura says:

      It would be easy to waterproof them, there are already waterproof USB flash drives (that’s just a specialized type of SSD from a technical point of view).

  10. Hammer says:

    I only returned to PC gaming about a year ago, and found that GeForce experience was helpful for getting back into tweaking graphics settings. Nine times out of ten, it give me nearly everything I can get out of my 760, and I only adjust a few things myself.

    But anything that makes PC gaming more accessible is a Good Thing.

  11. fredc says:

    “there’s actually a fair bit to like about Windows 8 in terms of under-the-hood optimisations that get overlooked thanks to the idiocy of the interface changes,”

    It’s not just the interface. How about the user accounts that corrupt themselves spontaneously? And which can’t be fixed under the 8.1 release because MS broke the relevant bit of software when they moved from 8.0 to 8.1?

    I’ve gone back to 7 and don’t have any performance problems. Since I can actually access drives and the OS is stable (see above), performance is especially impressive…

    • MkMax says:

      yeah ive noticed win8 is not as stable as win7 as well, ive had it froze in the “restarting” screen many times and the explorer sometimes starts malfunctioning and doesnt reset itself like it does in win7

      and dont forget the goddamn signed driver thing, i guess you havent had to deal with it

      the only 2 things i like in win8 over 7 are the task manager and the information during file transfers, not really enough to justify dealing with the rest

  12. mickygor says:

    I actually rather enjoy using Win8. Maybe because I’d been using WP8 for 18 months before I upgraded, and I went straight to 8.1. If they remove the start screen in its successor I don’t think I’ll bother upgrading.

  13. bill says:

    IF Microsoft want more users to upgrade to their new OS, one idea might be to pressure AMD/ATI to actually release some graphics drivers for ‘legacy’ cards that work on windows 8.1.
    Or to make their Microsoft generic drivers support OpenGL.

    Because right now I want to upgrade to 8.1, but it’s a huge risk because I don’t know if hacking the windows 8 driver installation process to get the drivers to work on 8.1 will work or not. And if it doesn’t then I won’t be able to play half my games.

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