Microsoft has taken a big step towards its next PC operating system, Windows 8, by deploying a Developer Preview version earlier this week, showcasing to everyone interested just what are the biggest features in the new OS.As you probably saw in our special article about gaming on Windows 8, it's pretty much a straightforward affair, and we encountered no major errors while trying out Hard Reset, the new PC exclusive first person shooter.
Now, let's talk about gaming on Windows 8 in general, and why it might just improve PC gaming, or at least change it forever. I could have gone for a more sensationalist headline, like how Windows 8 might save PC gaming, but most of us know it's in no danger, despite what certain console developers might believe.
Now, join us as we highlight three reasons why we believe Windows 8 is the most important version to date of Microsoft's OS in terms of gaming.
1. It's built on Windows 7 yet it consumes fewer resources.
Windows XP is a tried and true PC OS when it comes to gaming but, after the massive failure that was Vista, Windows 7 is now quickly becoming the most popular system for PC gamers, largely due to its stability and because it doesn't try to hog precious system resources which are needed by the actual games.
As such, with Windows 8 keeping much of the same system structure of 7, Microsoft isn't trying to change things just for the sake of change. Instead, if we are to believe the company, Windows 8 consumes even less resources than 7, despite running a special interface, the Metro UI, at the same time as the regular one we all know and pretty much love.
This performance aspect is certain to convince a lot of hardcore gamers to make the jump to Windows 8, at least once it becomes stable and developers learn to use its new abilities with new games.
2. It has a built-in App Store.
Like it or not, the App Store mechanic is probably one of the biggest innovations in the last few years, as operating system manufacturers, like Apple or Microsoft, need to have a regulated experience that allows users of their software to download all sorts of new and exciting apps.
With the Windows 8 App Store, Microsoft isn't just allowing users of the new OS to easily find and download new software or programs, but can also provide a simple enough interface to uncover new games and entertainment experiences.
Epic Games, the makers of hardcore franchises like Gears of War or Unreal Tournament, are already quite excited about this prospect, mainly because it's going to offer a one-stop alternative to more complicated digital distribution services like Steam, only built straight into the OS.
For people who didn't really see gaming on a computer like such a big deal, the Windows 8 App Store will slowly turn then into full pledged gamers.
3. It has Xbox Live integration.
Without a doubt one of the biggest gaming features baked into Windows 8 is the integration of Xbox Live, Microsoft's online service currently employed on the Xbox 360 console.
Games For Windows Live was a relatively decent effort from Microsoft to translate the Xbox Live experience onto the PC platform, but its execution and the glitchy nature of the service meant only nerves and frustration for users, directed both at Microsoft itself and the games that used it instead of simpler alternatives like Steam.
Now, with the GFWL marketplace built into the Xbox.com portal and Xbox Live scheduled to be included in Windows 8, it finally looks like Microsoft is doing the right thing.
While lots of things may change, we hope Microsoft's implementation of all the aforementioned features will work smoothly and Windows 8 will be a great OS not just for existing gamers, but also for new ones.
What do you believe about Windows 8 and gaming? Share your thoughts in a comment below.