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Good article, but...

I loved the article.  Very good, very scary, and it makes me re-think all the free time I've been using lately to play with C# and VB.net...  However, there are one point Joel did and didn't mention that I'd like to toss into the ring: video games.

He sort of mentioned them in regards to IBM's cordless phones.  Microsoft's game plan, if Longhorn doesn't succeed as much as they'd like, is to diversify with console video games.  What he didn't mention, in predicting desktop software's downfall, is the PC video game market.

PC gamers will buy the latest hardware and OS to play games.  Up until last November, I was happy using my 1998 machine for everything with no plans to upgrade.  Then a new game, with a 90% Windows userbase, came along, and I shelled out the money for parts to build a new PC.

PC games aren't something you can run on the web; sure you can download the game like ToonTown(1) and There(2) do, but they still use ActiveX and DirectX components.  PC games aren't something that you can easily install on a Linux machine; and this assumes that your video card has a Linux driver.  PC games, while having inroads being made into the Linux and Mac world, are still mostly a Windows desktop market.

If Microsoft's building a 3D rendering engine into Longhorn and stepping away from Internet Explorer, maybe their plans are to push an even richer client, a 3D client.  (It would explain where their Mythica(3) developers went after the game was dissolved.)

In short, I liked the article and can't disagree with anything in there.  However, and maybe I'm biased from reading a good bit about MMOG's, I think it may be short-sighted to assume Microsoft's only goal is to maintain dominance in the 2D application market.  (Feel free to diagree, because this is strictly conjecture.)

---

1. http://www.toontown.com/

2. http://www.there.com/

3. http://www.mythica.com/

Andrew Burton
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

I agree that games are an important driver.

I think they have always driven the leading edge of the hardware market.

And the high end games (Half Life, StarCraft, etc.) are so demanding (of the computer) that you have to take full advantage of the hardware/OS. This makes the program tightly coupled to the O/S.

For example, Half Life is avaialble only on the PC.

Hmmm.... THAT is where Microsoft should be focusing it's efforts to maintain it's monopoly.  But, then I guess it's doing that with the XBox.

Mr. Analogy
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Systems like XBOX and PS2 are reaching the breakeven point of hardware power vs game quality.

The fact is that PC gaming is really not as much an innovator as it was, and that the market for PC games is going to be continually threatened by console systems with enough power to run the same games.

The fact is that the PC flight sim / MMPORG / strategy / sim market is a throwaway market once consoles provide the horsepower and the games.

.
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

"Very good, very scary, and it makes me re-think all the free time I've been using lately to play with C# and VB.net...  "

You're still going to need the back-end written. Virtually all of my work in the past 4-5 years have been web-based apps. For the past 3 years, I've been using C# almost exclusively.

Still gotta write the business logic, data access layers, etc, etc. And that's a perfect place for .NET.

Mark Hoffman
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

"The fact is that PC gaming is really not as much an innovator as it was, and that the market for PC games is going to be continually threatened by console systems with enough power to run the same games."

The PC market certainly deflated since the PS2, but it will have its niche for awhile still because monitors have higher resolution and better color (so games look better), and you don't have to take over the family's TV to play them.

Even for consoles with monitor capability, though, it's hard to justify the cost of a large monitor dedicated to just a game console.

One who contemplates these things
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Consoles vs. PC's Gaming

I think that both have their place. When it comes to action (racing, shooters), adventure (zelda-esce) & sport games the consoles seem to be a lot better - the controllers and gameplay are much better on a console.

However, when it comes to RPG, strategy,  online games the PC is superior.

One example is Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic. The XBOX version is excellent, but the PC version is much better. The graphics are incredible & the keyboard is a superior input for this type game.

One other advanage of PC's right now is the ability to get updates & patches.

Gen'xer
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

"And the high end games (Half Life, StarCraft, etc.) are so demanding (of the computer) that you have to take full advantage of the hardware/OS. This makes the program tightly coupled to the O/S."

When Half-Life was released, the top of the line PC was a 500MHz Pentium III!  And at the time probably 80% of the execution time was going into graphics.  Nowadays it would be more like 5%, as everything happens in parallel on the GPU.

"For example, Half Life is avaialble only on the PC."

Not true at all.  Half-Life is also available for consoles.  Half-Life 2 has already been announced for the Xbox.

Junkster
Thursday, June 17, 2004

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