Valve's Gabe Newell and Blizzard Exec Voice Windows 8 Concerns

Valve boss Gabe Newell voices concerns on Windows 8 echoed by Blizzard’s Executive VP of Game Design Rob Pardo.
Windows 8 seems to be raising some concerns with publishers. Valve boss Gabe Newell stated that, “I think that Windows 8 is kind of a catastrophe for everybody in the PC space.” Newell’s concerns center on the possibility that Microsoft may be considering closing off the platform in a way that could potentially force companies into paying a royalty fee to operate sales or services within Windows 8.

“Valve wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the PC. Id Software, Epic, Zynga, Facebook, and Google wouldn’t have existed without the openness of the platform. I think there’s a strong temptation to close the platform. If people look at what they can accomplish when they can limit competitors’ access to their platform, they say, “Wow, that’s really exciting.” Even some of the people who have open platforms, like Microsoft, get really excited by the idea that Netflix has to pay them rent in order to be on the Internet, said Newell.”

Newell worries that some of the top-tier PC manufacturers will exit the market if that happens. This is one reason Valve is pushing to make the games on their Steam platform Linux friendly, to ensure that there is an alternative open platform in case Microsoft makes a move in that direction.

Newell isn’t the only one concerned about Windows 8. Blizzard Executive VP of Game Design Rob Pardo has also sounded off on his Twitter feed about Microsoft’s restrictive new platform.

Valve and Blizzard aren't alone in their concerns. Google and Mozilla, makers of their own web browsers, are also lashing out over Microsoft's Windows 8 restrictions.

In a May blog, Harvey Anderson, general council for Mozilla, stated:

It’s reported that Windows RT (the name Microsoft has given to Windows running on the ARM processor)  will have two environments, a Windows Classic environment and a Metro environment for apps. However, Windows on ARM prohibits any browser except for Internet Explorer from running in the privileged “Windows Classic” environment. In practice, this means that only Internet Explorer will be able to perform many of the advanced computing functions vital to modern browsers in terms of speed, stability, and security to which users have grown accustomed. Given that IE can run in Windows on ARM, there is no technical reason to conclude other browsers can’t do the same.

Why does this matter to users? Quite simply because Windows on ARM -as currently designed- restricts user choice, reduces competition and chills innovation.  By allowing only IE to perform the advanced functions of a modern Web browser, third-party browsers are effectively excluded from the platform. This matters for users of today’s tablets and tomorrow’s PCs. While ARM chipsets may be primarily built into phones and tablets today, in the future ARM will be significant on the PC hardware platform as well. These environments currently have intense browser competition that benefits both users and developers.

Anderson also called Microsoft's browser practices for Windows 8, "an unwelcome return to the digital dark ages where users and developers didn’t have browser choices." The vocal concerns have even drawn the attention of anti-trust regulators, something that Microsoft is no stranger to.

Windows 8 is due to release this October, and while Microsoft hasn't gone into great detail about their plans, it's clear that many have some deep concerns about what may happen if they get too heavy handed with restrictions.

What are your thoughts on Windows 8 and its possible impact on the gaming and browsing experience? Tell us in the comments below.

Sources: Gabe Newell Interview, Rob Pardo Twitter, Mozilla Blog
More from Mozilla: Asa Dotzler Blog 1, Asa Dotzler Blog 2

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