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We’re Looking at Windows 8 the Wrong Way

Recently, Notch went on record as tweeting ‘I’d rather have minecraft not run on windows 8 at all than to play along,’ referring to his refusal to certify Minecraft for Windows 8. This opinion is a bit unfounded and shows that a lot of confusion surrounds the release of the next Windows operating system. While Windows 8 admittedly has some faults, it has many major features that could benefit developers, including Mojang.

Despite what many other articles say, Windows 8’s metro view can be easily customized, and you spend very little time in it as a whole. Do you want games on your front page? Then go ahead, put games there. Here’s my current front page:

Although I spend most of my time on the desktop (AKA the regular user interface Windows 7- users will be familiar with), if I want to open another program, it’s only two clicks away. I can customize the size and color of every app and choose to hide or close it. It’s not set in stone, and you can go ahead and add all of your games to the start menu—no horizontal scrolling required.

That aside, what exactly are developers complaining about? Microsoft is attempting to pitch a unified store similar to Steam. Given Microsoft’s history and policies with XBLA, developers have good reason not to trust Microsoft, but that doesn’t mean they have to avoid the system entirely.  In Notch’s case, certifying his program is not the same thing as selling it through their app store. Certifying a game is a simple process that lets people know that your program works properly on Windows 8, your program handles crashes properly on Windows 8, and it can cleanly install and uninstall from a stystem. This is generally true for Minecraft, although some prominent mods for the game have difficulty running (I’m talking about Optifine, so Tekkit users can relax).

Certifying your program is optional, but it’s a bit silly avoid it when your program already qualifies for it. Windows 8 in general is a nice update to the old Windows operating systems, and subverts many forms of piracy by default, without resorting to DRM. You’d think developers would be more interested in it because of this, but the app store has them reeling in horror. I admit that the app store is a terrible idea and is trying to enforce a monopoly on games where Steam and other download clients have already built their niche. However, given that selling your games through the store are optional, and it works like a regular platform outside of that, it’s a little silly to withhold game registration.

The Windows 8 store is not the same as the App Store—you can still buy games and run games outside of it. Your program isn’t required to be certified at all—it’s just a kind of seal that says ‘yes, this game is compatible.’ Choosing to avoid a platform because of a single feature you don’t like is comparable to boycotting a convention because you don’t like the way they run their auction event. Why would you want to hinder your fans just to get a point across to Microsoft? Just a tweet condemning them would have the same effect.

I picked up a B.A. in English with a specialty in Poetry. I also draw manga-inspired webcomics and play far too much Minecraft in my free time. My favorite game is Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, while my favorite series is Suikoden!