Winwoes

My games folder should really be more interesting than this

This wibble is only loosely related to gaming, but as it concerns what our PCs will be like in a couple of years’ time, hopefully it’s of some interest to those who haven’t yet heard about Windows 7. If not, sorry. I’ll put my fun-hat back on tomorrow, promise.

Upgraded to Vista yet? Well, of course you have. All those wonderful platform-exclusive games, those high-end graphical effects not possible on XP, all that added stability, security and speed… Irresistible, non?

[Cough]. My other life as a tech reviewer/upgrade obsessive means I do run Vista as my primary operating system, and I can honestly say that, the odd olden game incompatibility aside, I don’t suffer any more trauma from it than I did from XP. However, its unfavourable position on the delayed launch/sluggish performance/cynical Directx10 exclusivity Venn diagram hasn’t made fans of many gamers. Even the most fair-weather of PC gamers I encounter seem brimful of somewhat excessive Vista bile. Still, there was a ton of grumbling about XP to start with, but eventually it pretty much proved itself; Windows 98 and 2000 gamers are relatively rare creatures these days (though they’re most certainly not extinct). Maybe we can expect the same from Vista after a couple of years.

Or maybe not. “Sometime in the next year or so we will have a new version [of Windows]”, Bill Gates told the Inter-American Development Bank last week. Now, we’d already heard that Windows 7, as it’s code-named (and should probably stay named, as a relief from focus group bullshit like ‘XP’ and ‘Vista’), was due by 2010, and presumably that’s still on-track. Gates was, it soon transpired, referring to a demonstrable early build within the year, not to a full release. Still, it’s one more reason for those who haven’t yet gone Vista to hang on for another couple of years. With DirectX 10 gaming still very much an unproven eye-delight, XP gamers can hardly be said to be feeling the upgrade burn. So, why not just hang on until Windows 7?

On the other hand, a three-year development timeframe is how Windowses used to be (while the Apple and Linux camps update still more quickly than that), so this isn’t anything out of the ordinary. Moreover, Microsoft’s officially keeping shtum about what Windows 7 actually involves so it doesn’t trip up Vista’s marketing, which might imply we can expect more DX10-exclusive games and another Service Pack or two yet.

Redmond hints suggest Win7’s focus may be on web-centric applications – logging into your desktop/preferred programs from a variety of devices. It’s the kind of thing that Microsoft’s already toying around with in its Live services (including, to a point, the vile Games For Windows Live flavour, and its remotely-stored user profiles), with strong competition from Google Documents et al. Which is only barely relevant to gaming, I realise, aside from the as-yet unmentioned possibility of savegames or even games themselves being accessible from any web-enabled PC. However, there’s talk of Windows 7 being a slimmer OS (thanks to the cutely-named new ‘MinWin’ kernel) that eats up less system resources, which could in turn mean a performance boost for our pretend-man-shoots.

In case you’re interested, leaked screenshots of a supposed internal build do look worryingly straight outta Vista, but the GUI has been described as a placeholder for now.

Meanwhile, what about ol’ faithful XP? It’s to be withdrawn from sale with most new PCs in June, though will continue to be available with ‘ultra-low cost PCs’. So, hang on to that old XP product key. You’re gonna need it if you want a low-fat OS on your next uber-PC.

(Incidentally, I would love for another PC OS to take advantage of the massive chink Vista’s left in Microsoft’s armour and become a viable gaming platform for Johnny Average. My marriage to Windows is strictly one of convenience. Convincing the entire games industry to play along is what’ll likely mean that doesn’t happen, sadly.)

70 Comments

  1. Lunaran says:

    I used 2000 until last summer, when CoH absolutely forced me to XP. Prior to that there was simply no real reason to bother.

    DX10-exclusive games all say to me they’re either relying on graphics to entertain me, which won’t work, or that they’re partially crippled via GFW as a means of pushing Vista on me, which is a cause I’ll never in a million years contribute to.

  2. Optimaximal says:

    The problem is DirectX. People aren’t going to write for another platform when something nice and easy like Microsoft’s language can do everything the open source stuff can, only better, quicker and with a nice amount of support behind it.

    Yeah, some people like Blizzard write code using OpenGL, which means they have a much lower spec (WoW would in theory run on my crusty Celeryon laptop with its i945 GMA) and cross platform apps, but they’re the exceptions that prove the rule.

    After all, Linux has now matured to a stage where it would be extremely beneficial as a gaming OS because you can get distros that are smaller than Paris Hilton (and with much more substance). Now if only games development for the platform stretched further than open-source remakes of games I played on my P100 ten years ago…

    As good as Warzone 2100 & Transport Tycoon are, they’re really nothing compared with CoD4, Half-Life 2 and C&C…

  3. Mike says:

    Just give Steam some memory management capabilities and have done with it.

  4. DigitalSignalX says:

    The only way vista will lure me is when more then one game I want to play has requirements that push into the 3GB of RAM limit on standard XP. Several out now are in the 1-2 GB range, it’s only a matter of time.

    Till then, the mod community is happy provide hacks to port over “vista only” games for DX9 on XP that look 98% as good and play 100% the same.

  5. Larington says:

    Microsoft needs to remember that its Operating System isn’t about being feature rich, its about providing the opportunity for a computer to BECOME feature rich. The basic idea being, we choose which features (Including microsoft made/sponsored ones) to install and which bloat to avoid so power gamers are able to choose an advanced install/feature system that allows the gamer to plug-in/unplug/replug whichever features he/she is or isn’t happy with and allows the user to choose if she wants a fast system or a feature rich system (Security is a whole other issue of course).

    It also means you have a ready made operating system for running in hand helds and the XBOX 720…

  6. Leeks! says:

    Dear RPS,

    I know you often feel the need to self-flagellate when you post something with a tenuous connection to PC gaming, but given the choice between the odd eyebrow-raising post and having to trawl through all of your personal blogs to read interesting technology articles (like this one)… Well, that isn’t much of a choice at all, really. Keep it up.

    Sincerely,
    -RPS readers who like things mixed up from time to time.

  7. Vexor says:

    Actually you’re still limited to 4-gigs max on any 32-bit OS. You’ll need to upgrade to Vista 64-bit or XP 64-bit. I’m using Vista Home Premium (32-bit) with 2gigs of Corsair Dominator RAM and it’s smooth as silk. I run LOTRO and COD4 on max settings with 0 issues. I’ve been using Vista for over 6 months and not a single crash, blue screen or any issue of any sort. My PC is used minimum of 4hours a day. Most of the crap you hear about Vista is BS these days.

  8. Windlab says:

    I currently use XP and Pardus Linux and would never use Vista.
    I would use Linux exclusively, except for the fact I like to play games other than True Combat: Elite(the only decent FPS for Linux and Macs). I also somewhat doubt that Valve will move to Linux any day soon.

  9. Johnny Law says:

    Let’s not muddy the waters too much here…

    DX10 requires Vista, right.

    GFW certification requires neither DX10 nor Vista, and it seems like a fine idea.

    GFW-Live is a bit of a clusterfuck so far, but it also requires neither DX10 nor Vista, so any GFW-Live animosity doesn’t need to attach itself to other things.

  10. Seniath says:

    I’m currently running Vista, for one very simple reason: it was free. The School of Computing here at Leeds Uni have a nice deal with MS (the Microsoft Academic Alliance) that nets students a fair amount of free software, including Vista Business-N.

    I figure, one day I’ll have the rig to play a proper DX10 game, so I may as well get Vista now whilst it’s free. Yes, I’ve had minor quibbles, but I’ve stuck with it and I…well, I don’t dislike it. Plus, it’s shiny. I’m a sucker for the shiny.

  11. Theory says:

    A three-year development timeframe is how Windowses used to be

    “Used to be”? Vista has been the sole exception. :P

    the as-yet unmentioned possibility of savegames … being accessible from any web-enabled PC

    Something Valve are adding to Steam, incidentally.

  12. Muzman says:

    Larington says:

    Microsoft needs to remember that its Operating System isn’t about being feature rich, its about providing the opportunity for a computer to BECOME feature rich.

    As much as I wish this were the case the Mac has basically made sure it’ll never happen. Your new/casual user now considers an “OS” to be some huge out of the box collection of gadgets and widgets and toys that do just about everything you want. Expect everything from now on to be super high level GUI-fied stuff to grab everyone from loincloth wearing goat herder’s children on up (I’m a believer in that strange ideal that PCs were, maybe are still, a place where humanity could keep up with its own technology rather than just being consumers. But it’s slipping away. There’s too much money in making it easy for people. Although if I had a spine I’d be on Linux by now, but I ain’t).
    They really just should just write facebook onto the kernel and have done with it actually.

  13. Sal says:

    im switching over to server 2003. Im a bit uneasy about that Vista Games folder…how’d would it react to all my hax games????

  14. Jae Armstrong says:

    Actually you’re still limited to 4-gigs max on any 32-bit OS. You’ll need to upgrade to Vista 64-bit or XP 64-bit.

    Eh, not quite. Though it won’t help any one process.

    But am I ever glad I never upgraded to Vista now.

  15. Gnarf says:

    “I would use Linux exclusively, except for the fact I like to play games other than True Combat: Elite(the only decent FPS for Linux and Macs). I also somewhat doubt that Valve will move to Linux any day soon.”

    I would use Linux all the time if it was better than Windows for the things I’d be using it for. Yeah. That’s how much it rocks.

  16. Max says:

    Oh guys, just by the way, you can use a program called Vista Game Explorer Editor to add box art to those older games that aren’t supported by Vista’s Games Explorer.

  17. RichPowers says:

    More from the MS hype department. In other words, I’ll believe it when I see it.

    Are there any games that actually warrant me switching to Vista? Because I plan on staying with XP for as long as possible, much like I did with Windows 2k (MS’s best OS as far as I’m concerned).

    Of course the only reason Windows exists in my house if for games. I’ve actually taken to using a KVM switch between Ubuntu and Windows.

  18. Seniath says:

    Max: Thankyou so very much :)

    I don’t use the Games Explorer (as I run everything through Steam) but I like to look in it occasionally and go “ohh”. That it’s a horrible mess always annoyed me.

  19. Butler` says:

    No, that’s the point RichPowers, there is very little to no reason to switch to Vista (unless you enjoy lower frame rates, intrusive security ‘features’, potential driver issues etc).

    There’s a link going round about the new MS Server 2008 running faster as a desktop OS than Vista SP1 :p

  20. po says:

    Vista = The #1 reason I switched to OSX for everything but gaming.

    (My OpenBSD experience being #2)

  21. Welles says:

    It was my plan to keep 2000 and skip XP in favour of Vista. Obviously that didn’t happen, I went to XP this winter because some new games stopped running on 2000 (mostly due to MS arbitrarily not allowing their latest gamepad-handling code to work in 2000, apparently).

    My plan would have worked, but I didn’t take account of the 1-2 years past release for a new MS OS to actually get into a useable state and for the hardware to catch up. Anyone trying to skip Vista might have the same problems in the end.

  22. martin says:

    i am playing most games on my debian box. halflife2(.1/.2) runs great, civ4 runs great, stalker runs great, eve (native) runs perfectly, evepremium runs great, sins of a solar empire runs great, portal runs great, perry rhodan runs good, et:quakwars (native) runs perfectly. only gears and galciv2 do not run, but galciv2 seems to run for some people and gears makes my gpu melt (really the card (7800gs 512 mb) goes beyond 95°C and reduces its power to unplayable depths) even under xp.

    just checkout Wine AppDB and look up your favorite game. but be warned, you may have to use a nocd fix for some games (i do buy all my games but still use nocd fixes for obvious convenience reasons).

  23. weegosan says:

    the 4 gig ram discussion misses the point to a degree. each application in windows can only ever directly be allocated 2gig of virtual space, in which it would build a view of 2gig allocated physical ram and 2gig shared kernel space. so in theory having 3 or 4 or whatever gigs of ram makes no difference to an application directly because it is never allowed to address more than 2.

  24. Max says:

    martin, I’ve tried using Ubuntu, Debian, SuSE and Mandriva as a gaming platform, but the ATI drivers just aren’t up to it, I don’t get even half the performance from my 3870 as I do under Windows. And it doesn’t support Crossfire.

  25. martin says:

    max, sorry to hear that but the ati driver is behind the nvidia driver performance wise. and sadly crossfire is not supported (or not really faster than a single card) but the same applies to sli.

    but to be honest i think the whole idea of sli and crossfire is great as a proof of concept but to expensive (the investment and the power consumption). i am still waiting for power efficient dual/quad core gpus, do you hear me amd/nvidia.

  26. Optimaximal says:

    I would use Linux all the time if it was better than Windows for the things I’d be using it for. Yeah. That’s how much it rocks.

    Sarcasm aside, Linux/Unix/whatever is better than Windows at everything… except gaming…

  27. wcaypahwat says:

    Once I found I couldn’t even install icewind dale on vista I gave it up as a lost cause (this was six months back of course, and I haven’t fidled with it since).

    Not to mention the terrible performance it has on almost any system (again, so far I’ve only seen it on basic OEM systems)

    I figure by the time I really do need it, I’ll need a new system anyway… plus, my XP looks even shinier than vista thanks to 3rd party software and some photoshoppery, people don’t even know what OS im running :)

  28. Jonathan says:

    Am I the only person who really doesn’t care about what operating system my computer uses? To me it’s just something that happens when I’m waiting for my dvd to be read or my program to load.

    Speed is the only issue I would consider valid and my Vista (home 64bit premium) hasn’t let me down. Thats a lie, actually I got blue screened once when there was a power cut half way through a system restore (a very nice and underrated little feature) and deleted my registry. Once I found the vista disc, in the sock drawer underneath a curly wurly, it took maybe 3 minutes for it to repair itself.

    Really I go with Microsoft because its the industry standard, its far cheaper than a mac with half the specs and Linux just looks like too much hassle for a cute mascot. All I want is compatibility, a Gui and a nice safety net of features for when I break something.

  29. Howard says:

    Never have I read such copious, paranoid drible in all my life from a bunch of people I know full well to be perfectly capable of rational thought.

    Simple fact is this: If you have problems with Vista, you do not know what you are doing. I exclusively run Vista Ultimate 64 bit since SP1 (yes, yes: SP1 was needed) and there is not one single game (from Magic Carpet to Crysis) that I have ANY issues with.

    The OS itself is faster and more reliable and has better drivers. The games (inc DX10) all work flawlessly and it just looks so much smoother and more fluid than XP it’s untrue.

    Stop believing hype (though I would never advocate actually applauding M$ of course) and jamming your head in the sand. You’re gamers for christ’s sake: embrace some new technology every once in a while!

  30. Ozzie says:

    Linux, isn’t really a hassle.
    Well, it was 2 to 3 years back when I first tried Debian because I was so sick of Windows.
    Debian’s hardware compatibility was disastrous, it threw one weird error at me after another, every new program I installed additionally didn’t work at all, it told me that it couldn’t mount NTFS partitions since they were already mounted (which they weren’t)….
    But Linux changed hugely just in the last 2 years.
    While the basic file system is still as chaotic as before (the Unix heritage, probably good for developers, but for normal users it’s just a mess; a program gets installed all over the system, not just in one folder), but you don’t have to care about it, really, since you can do most of the things now with a GUI tool and the hardware compatibility and support keeps getting better.

    You have to take yourself a bit time, though. You can’t expect from it to work like Windows.
    Oh, and Ubuntu is the better choice, at least for the uninitiated.
    Debian is for advanced users.

    I wanted to say something else, but it’s not important.

  31. Ozzie says:

    Vista more reliable. Pfff………
    I thought so too at first.
    I would shut the system down normally and at the next start it would tell me that the system wasn’t shut down properly.
    Okay, no worry so far, just a silly bug. Problem was, it kept happening again and again.
    No wait, that wasn’t the problem.
    The problem was that after an unspecified amount of shutdowns and startups the system would refuse to startup again! Instead an immediate shutdown from the OS itself. It didn’t even show me an error message so I could possibly fix the problem!
    After some amount of reboots I realized that it showed for a splitsecond a bluescreen before shutting down. Well, thanks for the information!

    You know, Windows is a so-called userfriendly OS that even the dumbest user should be able to use.
    Since I had problems with Vista I had probably no idea what I was doing, according to you.
    I use mainly Ubuntu now and supposedly I still have no idea what I’m doing, but the OS doesn’t punish me for it. I hold it in high regard for that.

  32. Kadayi says:

    I use 64 bit HPE and so far I don’t have any real complaints. Once in a blue moon I’ve had the odd BSD but these have been due to Nvidia driver crashes, not the OS itself.

  33. CitizenErazed says:

    I’ll simply do what I normally do. I’ll upgrade when I’m forced to upgrade and not before. The problem I have with Vista (the same problem I have/had with XP, incidentally) is the way it tries to stop you from doing what you want with your PC. I was recently setting up a wireless network at a family member’s flat and it took much longer than it should’ve done, because I kept having to tell Vista I was sure I wanted to do something.

    I can understand why you might have to have these features to stop the ‘durr I use the computing box to buy the books on russian websites’ users from completely breaking the system, but it should be far less intrusive than it is.

    As for what I run – my gaming box dualboots XP and openSuSE, my media center (oh yes. Shuttle on a widescreen monitor ftw) runs openSuSE and occasionally Xubuntu, because it’s far, far, far better at handling and organising your media. It doesn’t insist on media being in certain folders for the software to find it for a startoff.

  34. Kadayi says:

    You can turn off the security feature in Vista if you want (help:search). They are there by default to stop your system from being compromised though (OSX operates in a similar manner).

  35. Nick says:

    My only problem with Vista is/was the complete lack of any reason for me to upgrade from XP, it offered nothing I needed or wanted.

    If they released an OS with backwards compatability to DOS built in, I’d upgrade.

  36. Down Rodeo says:

    My laptop came preinstalled with Vista. It is slow. It is shit. Looks pretty but then I have Ubuntu now and it looks prettier running at, say, one third of the RAM usage and no swap usage at all (I have seen Vista eat one GB of my RAM on occasion, when sitting “doing nothing” and then however many GB of swap it was using). Wobbly windows for the win!

    I have a great picture of three programs in Vista all not responding at once. You could say that it’s because the damn thing should never have had Vista installed; that’s quite probably true. But it’s still a pretty poor excuse for an OS.

    But for those that might be interested the Wine developers release Windows builds of Wine. Why bother? you may ask. Well, since they plan to provide support for all the features of Direct X eventually they will have builds that allow you to use all of the DX10 features on, say, Windows XP, without needing Vista. At least, that’s what they say on their FAQs.

  37. malkav11 says:

    I don’t use Vista because I quite commonly hear Vista users complaining about thus-and-so item not working under Vista (X-Com: Terror From the Deep on Steam, for example), or requiring kludges to fix. It’s not that I don’t have to mess around to get things working under XP from time to time (10+ year old games, for example), but I haven’t heard any evidence that Vista is any more compatible with any of that, and frequently less.

    I have no DX10 card, so I don’t need DX10. I don’t want to play either of the Vista-only games that are out atm. (Halo 2 and Shadowrun are it, as far as I know. Am I wrong?) Installing Windows has always been a gigantic pain in the ass and Vista doesn’t appear to have improved that (indeed, it sounds like there’d be more stupidity on by default that I’d have to fix.). In short, it might run just as well as XP for me (or better), but it might not, and XP is a known quantity that requires zero effort on my part. If, heavens forbid, I were to have my XP system drive fail for some reason, then I might switch. In the meantime, no.

    Linux is a better built system, but it’s also a lot more complicated and less user-friendly. The GUIs I’ve used were universally poorly designed and laid out (and I don’t even like Windows that much. OS X is my ideal.). Again, Wine + DOSBox and some other emulators might offer most of the gaming potential I want, but evidence suggests less than 100% compatibility and more tweaking than I’d have to do under XP to get some of the compatible things to run correctly. Even then I’d never know if an error is the game’s fault or Wine’s fault. Not for me, sorry. Does make a great system recovery disc, though.

  38. Kommissar Nicko says:

    For the majority of end-users, the actual functionality of the OS hasn’t changed very much since Windows 95. For me, Windows 2000 was the easiest OS to do networking with, and that was the last significant improvement (keep in mind at the time I was 13, so “networking” means file-sharing). Since then, all that Windows XP and Vista have done is strewn all the various knick-knacks from hell to breakfast; I resent that every time I use a new OS, I have to relearn where all the damned options are.

  39. malkav11 says:

    Microsoft *is* very good at obscuring previously user-friendly interactions.

  40. SkUrRiEr says:

    I use XP purely for gaming and some other shit (tax, yay) which won’t run properly under Linux.

    My only experience with Vista was my girlfriend’s work computer, a stock pre-installed Dell machine. She constantly complained about it being slow or weird or something like that, but most of that was “it’s not like XP”, or it doing stupid things or getting in her way. It would also intermittently refuse to connect to the (wireless) network.

    I found that the wireless networking features, whilst buried underneath loads of unrelated screens, were somewhat well thought out, and occasionally user friendly, not painfully obviously bolted onto the side like on XP. Also, the shutdown and bootup times were quite amazing.

    But eventually, it all (thankfully) ended: after a virus scanner update it steadfastly refused to connect to the internet, or even acknowledge that there was a wireless card attached. Reinstalling the drivers didn’t fix it, neither did removing the offending virus software. (Trend Micro)

    We downgraded it to XP and she’s been happy ever since.

  41. Tim says:

    More games run under linux natively then people think. For example.. The current front runner for 08 game of the year (You Have To Burn The Rope) runs on linux just fine.

    I see this as an emerging trend. The more users the merrier.

  42. Max says:

    When Vista is “eating” over a gigabyte of RAM (I have 8 GB in my PC and it likes to idle at around 2.5 used) it is making use of a resource by efficiently and intelligently caching your disk into memory (among other things). It isn’t simply doing it for the sake of it.

    Unused RAM is wasted RAM, after all.

  43. Voidman says:

    Vista vs XP
    Putting all the stability/compatibility issues aside (they can be resolved with a bit of effort), I can’t somehow overlook the much neglected feature of “retail price” or value for money should I say? Although I’ve seen the Vista price coming down recently for the entry level distro at least, so in a year or so it might actually be a viable product. Who knows perhaps the open source community will embrace Vista as well by then. Until that moment I will stick to XP with occasional if passionate Linux/Solaris affairs.

    Anyways migrating to newer OS is inevitable and most likely will happen so all this heated debate is only an insignificant feature of a turbulent transition period.

  44. devlocke says:

    Considering the fact that Linux has virtually no support from commercial developers, it’s amazing that it has any games at all that don’t look like complete and utter rubbish. I started a blog to review every game available from Ubuntu’s default repositories a few months ago, and… well, it’s been a soul-draining experience because so much of the stuff I’m having to play is complete and utter crap, but it’s also been amazing at times.

    I’m up to the H’s now (I’m going in alphabetical order) and I’ve run into at least five or six games that really compare pretty well to anything I’ve played retail recently. Mind you, I haven’t been playing anything recently at higher than ‘Medium’ settings, as I’m due for an upgrade, but that open-source software is able to even approach the stuff that’s getting put out by commercial developers proves that the operating system could be a viable alternative in the future.

    It’s perfectly true at this point to say that Linux sucks for gaming, but it’s really obviously not because the OS isn’t capable of delivering a AAA experience. There just aren’t any AAA titles being developed for it. If it gains market share enough to make it worthwhile to develop for, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it take off.

    That said, Jesus H. Christ, I’m getting very sick of puzzle games and crappy half-coded clones of ten-year-old retail software. Linux may be perfectly capable of providing a current-gen experience, but very few people in the open-source community have their shit together enough to demonstrate that.

  45. Andrew Farrell says:

    Regarding the actual suggestion in the article, I think you’d have to be pretty crazy to upgrade your main games machine to a “demonstrable early build” of Windows 7. By then there should be a second service pack for Vista, which should make it usable (as usable as XP/NT post SP2, anyway).

  46. Sam says:

    devlocke – what counts as a AAA title nowadays? ET:QW has a perfectly functional linux client, for example (I mention this as an example since I just bought it on budget on the weekend, so it’s fresh in my memory).

    (That said, id software provided such a client for moral, as opposed to financial reasons, so your point still stands.)

  47. Ozzie says:

    Yeah, OpenGL is absolutely up to par with DirectX, so of course Linux is perfectly fine as a gaming platform.
    There aren’t many commercially released titles, though.
    Besides the Unreal Tournament series, Ankh, X, Penumbra and games from id Software I can’t think of any other recent commercial games ported to the linux platform.
    The up-coming Penny Arcade will be also for Linux, though.

  48. Piratepete says:

    Vista forces unhappy Pirate to Linux shocker.

    Read the headline.

    Best thing i ever did, provided i could find the necessary ubuntu tinkering time.. Vista just doesn’t really work for me to the point where I am seriously considering giving up PC gaming and buying an Xbox.

    Seriously, its that bad

  49. Dinger says:

    Yeah, I have a DX10-capable card, 4 gigs of RAM and a processor fast enough to run Vista (which was released months after I built my current system).
    So I stay with XP.
    Why? The same reason why, when I had a 486DX100 laptop with 16 megs of RAM I stayed with DOS/WfW 3.11 instead of “upgrading” to Win95 (which was released months after I bought the PC).
    XP does what I want; Vista brings to the table: A. A new interface to deal with, B. Heavier use of resources, C. Teething problems.
    The big difference I see between Win95 and Vista is that Win95 actually had some new, useful stuff in it. Not much, mind you, but Winsock helped.

    So I have to spend time and frustration with the interface, just so things will run slower and break more frequently?

    The Win95 parallel is not by accident, since as we know in the gaming world, Win95 effectively killed the golden age of PC gaming: before Win95 PCs were on a plateau where any DOS computer of recent vintage could play games, and the early nineties saw the flourishing of all kinds of great titles, that were ubiquitous (I remember seeing a university physics computer lab where Descent was installed on a hidden directory on every machine).
    Win95 came along and overnight killed DOS games. Every PC now had to run games through the OS, slowing them down. 3D accelerator cards promised new performance, but effectively differentiated “game-capable” PCs from “ordinary” PCs. Everything got more complicated: PCs were always configuration nightmares, but it went from “put disk in drive, load game, set Audio Card and Video Resolution” to “Install program. Start Program. Fiddle with graphics settings until something works. Then adjust for it to work well enough to play”

    Windows 95 (=Windows 4) was generally a bust. Windows 98 (=Windows 4.1) worked. XP (=Windows 5.0) worked. Vista (=6), the biggest change since Windows 95, sucks.
    I can only hope “Windows 7” works, or that the Linux folks succeed in making a gaming OS.

  50. Alarik says:

    Linux? Heh. Linux is great game but I wouldn’t want to use it every day. Because I prefer playing games and not playing with OS (usually).

    That said, of course I like certain things about linux (console and all-encompassing and omnipresent command line and nice, GUI integrated command line and text-mode applications), but overally I prefer XP/Vista all the way.

    Oh, and in case the ease of use, stability and game support is not enough, there is a wide selection of software – as it was said, OS is basically just launcher for applications, and well, linux applications are simply not on par with Win apps generally (fact). Nearly every major application on nix is available on Win, but vice-versa (hmm, are there even any “major” nix applications btw .-)? No way :-)