Slightly off-topic from typical gaming related news, but I thought I would start a conversation since many devs and gamers I talk with often discuss this OS or that OS as "The Next Big Thing"™. The general consensus I get from the public is that Windows 8 got off to a rocky start given the changes they've made to the interface. From a gaming perspective Microsoft has only added incremental updates to DirectX 11 since the release of Windows 8.0. Microsoft today has released Windows 8.1 RTM and it comes with DX 11.2 (IMO nothing big, but some convenient updates). Despite public backlash against tiles and Windows apps, Microsoft decided to release the update via the Windows Store app (oh the irony). They also forgot to mention that you need a special update for Windows 8.0 in order to download 8.1. Not off to a good start. So I just finished the update and after waiting just a little over an whole hour for it to finish, I'm regretting it big time. My standard desktop account was replaced and I'm now logged in using my online Microsoft account. Seriously? You have to go to your account settings and tell Windows that you don't want to do this. It's also amazing that anyone who rushes through the installation will automatically opt-in to sending Microsoft a ton of private information. It's incredible how much Microsoft wants to know what you're doing. I held off doing it because I didn't want to blow away my time, but this weekend I'm defiantly going back to Windows 7. Pop that DVD in and I'm never looking back.
But aside from this terrible experience I had, I've been seeing a lot of push lately for alternatives. We all know where Valve stands with Windows and their desire to move into the living room with Steam Machines and they're progressing along nicely with that. There's also other people competing for that space such as Ouya, Gamepop, GameStick, and a host of less popular micro devices running on Android or Linux that offer smart TV enhancements to the living room. Of course there's also the big players Xbox One and PS4, but then you have nVidia promoting the future in PCs and that Battlebox is the future for high quality gaming (at a price that will dig into your bank account).
Everyone's competing for space now. Canonical, the company responsible for working on the popular Linux distro Ubuntu is moving into the mobile front as well. Their operating system does what other phones haven't, to bridge the PC and mobile devices together. To run the same Linux apps and games on your PC as well as your phone. Plug a keyboard, mouse, and monitor in and you have a portable PC. This is pretty much what I've been asking for a long time, so if they can do a good job then maybe this will turn out to be "The Next Big Thing"™
So it's all interesting stuff and I'm happy with the competition and direction the market is going in. I think the times ahead are going to be very interesting and exciting. As for Microsoft... This is of course my personal opinion, but I always imagined the Windows 8.1 update would be Microsoft's way to redeem themselves. After installing this 8.1 update and seeing it for what it really is, I can't help but think Microsoft just dug themselves a bigger grave. I was content with Windows 8.0 despite it's negatives, but this update was enough to make me now want to jump ship and throw away a weekend reinstalling everything just to go back to Win 7.