Tag Archives: microsoft

SteamOS ist ziemlich sicher tot

Die Spielefirma Valve und ihren CEO Gabe Newell dürften so ziemlich alle kennen, denn deren Spiele wie Counterstrike, Team Fortress 2 oder Half-Life kennt fast jeder. Valve drängt es ja seit einiger Zeit in die heimischen Wohnzimmer und das dazu auserkorene Mittel der Wahl war bisher eine eigene, auf Debian basierende Linuxdistribution namens SteamOS, an der Valve seit etwas über zwei Jahre arbeitet. Die Gründe dafür waren unter anderem die Offenheit von Linux, die Möglichkeit, einen eigenen Steamcontroller anzuschließen und die Kontrolle über das System. So sagte jedenfalls Gabe Newell.

Viele sahen das ja als den Durchbruch für Linux Gaming an und freuten sich, selbst Linus Torvalds war recht begeistert. Das Problem an Linux ist ja die Fragmentierung und wenn Valve eine Plattform für Spiele für alle bereit stellt, fällt das weitestgehend in dem Bereich weg. Andere Probleme waren und sind allerdings die manchmal grottige Performance von OpenGL, sowie dass unter Linux die Grafikkarten von Nvidia deutlich schneller als die von ATI laufen. Ein weiteres Problem ist, dass natürlich auch diverse Game Engines an Linux angepasst und optimiert werden müssten .Wenn man es richtig macht, dann sind Frameraten möglich, die mit Windows gleichauf sind oder sogar noch schneller, nur wird diesen Aufwand längst nicht jeder Entwickler oder jedes Studio betreiben, wie Valve das mit der Source Engine getan hat.

Jedenfalls nun gibt es, von der Öffentlichkeit recht wenig beachtet, seit einiger Zeit von Dells Alienware die erste Konsole zu Steam – und sie läuft mit Windows 8.1. A-ha. O-ho. Man hat keine Ahnung, wie Valve es geschafft hat, Microsoft weich zu kriegen, aber das Ding bootet nicht mal mit dem Windows-Logo, sondern einem von Alienware. Also hat Valve offenkundig von Microsoft bekommen was, anderen Firmen bisher nicht möglich war.

Da bleibt dann natürlich die Frage offen: Was wird nun aus SteamOS? Offenkundig war SteamOS ein gutes Druckmittel, um Microsoft klein zu kriegen und zum Einlenken zu bewegen. Das hat jetzt ja nun auch gut geklappt. Windows hat den Vorteil, dass auf der Plattform eben alle Spiele schon zur Verfügung stehen und nicht erst portiert werden müssen. Eine Steambox unter Windows hat den Vorteil, dass darauf natürlich sehr viel mehr Spiele laufen können, man hat den Leistungsabfall mit ATI-Treibern nicht und auch keinen extra Portierungsaufwand.

Da bleibt dann doch die Frage: was wird nun aus SteamOS werden? Der Grund, warum man mit der Entwicklung von SteamOS anfing, hat sich damit ja nun weitestgehend erledigt. Wird Valve nun wirklich weiterhin hinter SteamOS stehen oder aber es noch eine Weile pro forma weiter pflegen und dann gibt es einen „fade out of existance?“

Ich denke, letzteres wird der Fall werden. SteamOS hat seine Schuldigkeit getan und Valve benötigt es ganz einfach nicht mehr. Wozu also sollte Valve noch Energie in das Projekt stecken, was Zeit und Geld kostet, wo sie nun von Microsoft das bekommen haben, was sie wollten? SteamOS ist damit ziemlich sicher tot und wird irgendwann einfach aufhören zu existieren, ganz einfach weil SteamOS für Valve keinen Sinn mehr macht und seinen Zweck erfüllt hat.

Und wenn denn Microsoft dann doch irgendwann wieder meint, andere Bedingungen diktieren zu können, dann kann Valve einfach auf SteamOS verweisen und androhen, es weiter zu entwickeln. Das reicht dann schon aus, mehr muss es nicht mehr können.

Microsoft verlängert Verkauf von Windows 7

Habt ihr es bemerkt? Nach dem ursprünglichen Plan von Microsoft hätte Windows 7 bereits ab Ende Oktober 2013 nicht mehr verkauft werden sollen. Aber im Gegensatz zum ursprünglichen Plan kann man die Retail-Lizenzen nach wie vor verkaufen und das Ende der Lebenszeit ist „to be determined“, also sie denken nun darüber nach, wann es offiziell der Fall sein wird.

Anders gesagt: Microsoft hat damit endlich eingesehen, dass Windows 8 Schrott ist und dies keiner wirklich haben will. Da ab April 2014 der Support für Windows XP endet, stehen nun langsam viele Firmen vor dem Problem, auf welches Windows sie umsteigen sollen. Windows XP hat schließlich schlappe 13 Jahre gehalten und damit viel länger, als ursprünglich geplant und gedacht.

Alle Firmen jedenfalls, die ich persönlich kenne, wollen dabei auf Windows 7 umsteigen. Windows 8 ist ihnen zu zappelig, krank zu bedienen und fremdartig. Windows 7 hat damit beim momentanen Stand der Dinge das Zeug zum neuen Ewig-Windows und wird damit ziemlich sicher nun Windows XP ablösen. Endlich hat auch Microsoft das eingesehen, bleibt nur zu hoffen, dass Windows 9 wieder besser werden wird.

Etwas aus dem Bereich der Betriebssysteme

Das wird euch nun sicherlich allesamt mindestens genauso überraschen wie mich auch: laut einer Statistik der Firma Net Applications verkaufte sich Windows 8 seit seinem Launch noch schlechter als das damals ungeliebte Windows Vista. Der Marktanteil von Windows 8 liegt bei 1,6%, im Vergleich dazu lag der von Vista seinerzeit bei 2,2% zwei Monate nach seinem Erscheinen.

Damit ist Windows 8 das neue Vista und Windows 7 das neue XP. Windows 7 wird uns noch einige Zeit erhalten bleiben, vielleicht hält mit Windows 9 ja wieder dann der gesunde Menschenverstand bei Microsoft Einzug.

Windows 8 Evaluierungsversion steht ab sofort zum Download bereit

Ab sofort steht bei Microsoft die kostenlos nutzbare Evaluierungsversion von Windows 8 zum Download bereit. Diese muss nach zehn Tagen aktiviert werden und läuft insgesamt genau 90 Tage, danach kann man sie nicht mehr weiter benutzen. Sie durch Kauf einer Lizenz in eine dauerhaft nutzbare Version umzuwandeln ist unmöglich.

Gedacht ist diese Version für Interessierte, die Windows 8 für Firmen, privat und auch sonst testen wollen, ob sich der Einsatz bereits lohnt oder nicht, die keinen Zugriff auf MSDN und TechNet haben. Microsoft gibt an, Windows 8 habe genau dieselben Hardwareanforderungen wie Windows 7 und empfiehlt die Installation wahlweise in einer eigenen Partition oder aber virtuellen Maschine.

Zum Download von Microsoft geht es hier entlang, das Ding dürfte ca. 3 Gigabyte im Download betragen, dauert also ein Weilchen. Wer also bisher zu Windows 8 noch keine Meinung hat, aber es nun legal und kostenlos testen will um zu sehen, ob es ihm gefällt oder eben nicht, der kann das ab sofort mit der finalen Version von Microsoft höchstselbst bereitgestellt tun.

Der Download ist in Deutsch, Englisch und weiteren Sprachen erhältlich.

GTA IV sucks golfballs through a garden hose

I’ve purchased the PC version of "GTA IV" on Steam at the holiday price action. This means, I had to pay around 8€ for that game, while you still have to pay around 40€ in different kind of shops. Well, it helped me to keep my temper down – a lot. Here’s why.

First, GTA IV is really a great game. Graphics, story telling, looks, you name it, it got it. The high ranking ratings and well received critics don’t come from nowhere. But the stuff surrounding the game just really sucks golfballs through a garden hose. The game, even one year after its launch on the PC platform, is full of annoyances.

Which kind of annoyances, you might ask? Well, here they are:

  1. The sheer amount of computing power under your desk you need to play it nicely. Better have a decent quad core, at least, and a very good graphics card, 512 MB of memory is the minimum, better yet 1 GB, if you want to play it on the highest detail level. This is something that’s going to wane down in the future when more and more potent computers are becoming wide spread.
  2. One word: Microsoft. It just plain sucks. What the game has to do with Microsoft, you might ask? Well…
    1. You are unable to make any saves of the gaming progress at all, when you are not signing up for Microsoft Live. What the bloody fucking hell have the developers thought about that? I don’t need no stinking membership in there, when I want to save a game, it should happen without that kind of stuff and shit, period! And believe me, since you are going to play it for a long time, membership is really a crucial need for you. This just plain rotten stinks!
    2. Support for 3rd party Controllers, namely gamepads. The first version of the game, released in 2008, only supported one type of gamepads, namely the ones from Microsoft for the Xbox 360. Why in the name of bloody hell should I buy a gamedpad for around 50$, just because the developers are forcing me to do that? Games on Windows have always been open for a broad range of hardware, there are enough cheaper and almost as good controllers around for PCs, anyway, and I am not going to buy a stinking Microsoft controller just because the developers have made the game that way. With later patches they introduced a somewhat broader support for other controllers, but still the support is severly lacking and leaves much in the dust.
      I repeat: this has just been a decision to make people go to Microsoft and buy their stuff. Hell, I for sure really dislike that kind of attitude!
  3. DRM. You need to activate the game once over the internet. If you bought the DVD-Version, you are only able to launch it if DVD #1 is in your dvd drive. You for sure cannot start the game without always first launching up that application named "Rockstar Social Games Club", because it is part of the DRM. There is no way to get rid of it. You can start the game with that application, but when you are not a member of that club you are always getting reminded in a very annoying dialog box that you are unable to publish your acchievements on that club website as long as you are not signing up there. Hell, why should I want to do that? This is just another plain and annoying part of the customer being treated like a child and not a grownup at all. Bummer.

So, since I bought that game on budget, I am content with most of that stuff, though. But, if I would have bought it in a shop, I would have returned it, because of all that annoyances. They suck great lengths! Don’t get me wrong, though: the game itself is great, but all that stuff makes it really an annoying pain in the ass. No customer likes to be treated as a child as much as this game did and still sometime does!

Vista is shit, part two

Microsoft has reacted to the demand on the market and now has created two new options for purchasing XP:

  1. It allows big manufacturer now to offer their customers of computers with Windows Vista a free downgrade to Windows XP. Consider this – buying a new computer with Vista and you got the option to downgrade to it’s predecessor! This has as far as I know never been around before.
  2. They extended the availabilty of XP OEM versions from 31. January 2008 to 30. June 2008 to "give the people more flexibility."

So the market has spoken and the market doesn’t want Vista. It’s really easy. Is there a greater way to admit that your software is bad and that you’re not content with its sales pitch?

Windows Vista is shit!

This has only to do a little with Second Life, but since Microsoft also celebrated the launch of Windows Vista back then in Second Life, too, at different locations, so why not.

It’s got to be said: Windows Vista is shit! So, now blame me, burn me, do whatever you want with this statement, but what needs to be said is now said.

While the exceptionally good PR department from Microsoft is now celebrating the sale of 20 million licenses of Vista already, the question remains: is Vista ready yet for the primetime? No, it isn’t! Of course Microsoft wants to make you believe it, but there are good reasons to stick with Windows XP or Windows 2000 – yet. In my own opinion the best Windows Microsoft ever made is still Windows 2000. Also the number of 20 millions is in the discussion, some commenter over at eWeek suggested a good method how to validate this. BTW, in February Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer was still disgruntled about the bad sales of Vista and blaming piracy as the main reason for it, read this and that, too. Bwahaha! So, go figure! 20 million copies? In your dreams, pal!

Take my advise: if you really want to use Vista in a critical business environment – and which business environment is not critical – better wait another year. Perhaps then most of the outstanding issues with Vista are fixed, somewhat.

So, what’s wrong with Vista? Well, let me give you some reasons:

  • It’s a memory and ressource hog, period. While 128 MB RAM were the minimum to work with Windows 2000 and 256 MB RAM with Windows XP, you should better have at least 512 MB RAM to work with Windows Vista and a decent CPU, too. Graphics? Well, you can live without Aero, this is eye candy, but nothing you really need. I mean, an OS should be the tool enabling to use your PC well, but not the star!
  • Vista should have been more secure than XP and have many new features. Heck, it was over five years in the making, for the software industry this is like eternity! But, what happened? Vista phones home frequently, and this is now called WGA – Windows Geniune Advantage! Pah! It’s even more worse in that kind of issue than XP was used to be. It can be blocked by a firewall, but really – who knows about that and how to do that anyway? No wonder it has been frequently cracked already in the past, no wonder even more when you consider that WGA considered in the past legitimate copies of XP and Vista as illigetimate and hassled the users of it!
  • Vista needs to be activated – now even in a corporate environment. More work for the system administrator – yadda yadda. No wonder this has been cracked already, too.
  • Vista has builtin new features, that should make it more secure than XP and more hard for trojans and viruses to run on it, called PatchGuard and Code Integrity. PatchGuard is supposed in the 64bit version of Vista, it has already been breached more than once – and is hopefully fixed, already.
  • We all love drivers, because we all have hardware we’ve grown accustomed to and still want to use. So, if you need such tools – better wait. Drivers are still an issue! For example, the drivers for the newest, shiniest, brightest Nvidia graphics card are not yet ready for the prime time! Proof? Here! I mean, the early adopters just bought a Nvidia Geforce 8800 perhaps, dreamed of using it under Vista and are now facing a driver, that’s still in the development and somewhat lacking. No wonder some gruntled users are considering filing a class action suit against Nvidia!
  • Drivers are a fiasco as stated above. I mean, Vista has been available for corporate usage since end of November 2006, for private usage intentionally since end of January this year, so that the hardware vendors had enough time to produce drivers for Vista. And – they’re still not there!
  • The famous anti virus makers Kaspersky claim it’s less secure than XP in some aspects at the moment!
  • Vista is crippling the output of high quality content on purpose. While this might have it’s legitimation in some use cases, it has not in many use cases, but it seems you cannot turn off those features.
  • It’s too expensive and has too many versions of it, most of them crippled in a way that you need to stick with the more expensive ones in corporate use cases or sooner or later are upgrading it with the Anytime upgrade, anyway. Mac OS X Tiger, which is a decent operating system, costs 129 US$ for the user – full version. The best Vista version, Windows Vista Ultimate, which many need, costs 259 US$ directly from Microsoft, Windows Vista Business is still 199 US$. For the upgrade editions! What, you’re not eligable for an update? Well, Microsoft is your friend, of course. Vista Home Basic, the most crippled version, costs as full version at least 174 US$, Vista Business at least 262 US$, and Vista Ultimate at least 324 US$. Those prices are sick!

Of course, Microsoft is not putting much effort into making it well known, that there are also system builder’s versions around of Vista. A system builder version is the same like the full version, except it does not come into such a shiny box like the full version and you don’t get any direct support from Microsoft, like calling by phone or via email. Of course, you get the patches, too. Aside of that, it’s identically to the full version. Want a system builder edition of Vista Ultimate? Hey, it’s 189 US$ only over there at Amazon.com! Do the math and go figure; it’s the best shot to get a legal copy of Vista, if you need to have one, and much cheaper than the normal, legal, full version, and also comes from Microsoft.

If you really want a decent operating system, go buy yourself a Macintosh with OS X, stick with Windows 2000 or XP – they’re both mature enough or use Linux. The biggest competition for Vista is XP and Windows 2000 itself. Having said that, what else should be noted?

You can already have many of the advanced features of Vista under earlier Windows versions. So you want desktop search? Google, Yahoo and Copernic are gladly providing it to you for free! Ok, it’s of course better when it’s coming with the OS and application can use a standard API, but those desktop searches have been around for years now and are doing their job very well.

Want eye candy? There are also enough tools around to achieve it and so on.

BTW, here are some news regarding the topic of using Vista in large scale environments:

So, what’s the moral of the story? Though Vista is here, it’s still immature and not ready for the primetime, yet. If you really want to use it, better make sure that you’ve got decent hardware and better just wait until 2008. Most of the outstanding issues should have been ironed out, then.

The biggest competition for Vista is Microsoft itself, namely Windows 2000 and Windows XP. Vista is a whole new dimension of crippling user rights and phoning home, though.

Vista is going to emerge slowly on the market; while it was being hailed as a revolutionary operating system in the beginning of design and making, in reality it has become an evolutionary operating system. Vista is not getting market share by direct sales, it’s gaining market share because many computers are coming prepackaged with it. This process is going to take some time, so, it’s emerging slowly.

Oh, and by the way, if you want to pirate software, Microsoft wants that you pirate them instead of the competition. That’s a pragmatic point of view, I must say, quite understandable, but software vendors very rarely dare to say that openly in public. Yadda yadda!

Of course, competition is tough and it’s hard to be Microsoft, but Vista is really disappointing me on great lengths, especially when you consider it has been over five years in the making. But then again, it’s the future standard, since most computers are going to be shipped only with it from now on, so better get used to it.