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Product: Windows 8
Company: Microsoft
See Pricing
Review By: Andre Da Costa

with Byron Hinson, Robert Stein & contributing


Table Of Contents (45 Pages)
1: Introduction
2: Pricing, Editions & System
Installation, Setup & Upgrading
4: Initial Impressions
5: Daily Usage & Application Compatibility
6: Desktop
7: File Explorer
8: Start Screen Apps
9: Internet Explorer 10

10: Networking & Connectivity
11: Windows Store
12: Gaming
13: Advanced Features - Part 1
14: Advanced Features - Part 2
15: USB 3.0 Support & Security
16: Performance & Reliability
17: Support Services & Activation 3.0
18: Other Features
19: Conclusion & Online Resources

When Microsoft first announced that Windows 8 would have the games section as part of the metro UI rather than in the desktop area as before I was certainly sceptical about how it would work out, especially as most PC gamers would happily avoid Metro and rather delve straight into Steam or other non-metro based gaming stores.

Firstly if you use Xbox Live then you will get decent integration with Windows 8 thanks to the Games tile on the main metro menu. You get access to your gamertag, achievements, Games for Windows Live titles and much more. It all works just as well as it should do, though having such long scrolls to get to stuff a lot of people would rather access quickly is going to be pain many will have to get used to. Issues start to rise up here though; games in the Windows store are a mishmash of poor quality metro designed games mixed with a few decent Xbox Live Arcade titles. Yes it is early days as the OS wonít be released until October, but the Windows Store in my view is a poorly designed mess when it comes to sorting though applications and games when trying to find something you want or might be interested in.

Thankfully you can still avoid using Microsoftís store altogether as Steam and Origin both work perfectly well on Windows 8 despite not having ďMetroĒ based interfaces yet.

Complaints from developers have mainly focused on Metro, particularly Gabe Newell of Valve who said, ďI think that they will basically rage quit computing after they use it. Things that used to be incredibly simple are now very complicated and hard.Ē Firstly this isnít true, it isnít hard to use, its just awkward on a desktop with a mouse and keyboard. Microsoft have created a very good tablet UI for gaming, one that is better than anything else out there in my view, its just a shame that in doing so they have made it a pain to get straight to the desktop and to the applications that actually do a proper decent PC gaming job.

Some of the Metro based games that are available now are basic, that isnít a problem as some can be very addictive. The issue I have with some of them currently is that they are clearly designed for touch based controls and donít work so well with the mouse.  There are also times when you have to do a huge amount of needless scrolling though poorly designed menus that once again donít work so well with a mouse. Donít get me wrong though, you donít have to use Metro at all if you just do what I do. I tend to go straight to the desktop as soon as I boot up or return from sleep and thatís the best way for me. You can also press the Windows key when in Metro and start to type in the name of the game you want to play and load it up that way if you want to. Microsoft really should have allowed keyboard and mouse users to completely bypass metro if they wanted to and I canít understand why they havenít at least given an option to.

Firstly letís get some myths out of the way, gaming performance in Windows 8 tends to be minutely better than that of Windows 7. Reasoning behind this is probably better memory management and a lesser payload running in the background. Some have said they expected lower performance but I certainly havenít seen any indication of this in any title that I have played through from older games to more recent PC titles such as Sleeping Dogs, Walking Dead and Skyrim. Metro does NOT get in the way when you are gaming, lets just get that clear, if you are playing a game you wonít even know its there in the background and thatís just what we wanted. The big issue for developers is about how games will be distributed on the Windows Store, which gets pride of place in the main Metro menu, something that companies like Valve really donít want to see.

At the moment they donít have anything to worry about from a gamerís point of view, Steam is built for gamers, it has a great interface and is easy to find what you need via the desktop, the Windows Store is the opposite. Iím sure itíll change in the future but at the moment I donít think that Valve have anything to worry about here. There are other gaming features that should be mentioned too, one of which is Xbox Smartglass, which is set to let you use your tablet or phone to ďenhanceĒ your games experience on the Xbox 360 console. From a brief try it works well enough on a tablet but as expected, using it on a desktop PC is a no-no. We will have more on Xbox SmartGlass in the future once it becomes more widely used.

There is a lot to look forward to in the future if Windows 8 Metro gaming is likely to be your thing with around 40 titles expected to be ready for the operating systems launch. All titles will have Xbox Achievements while only a few will have leaderboards, multiplayer modes and more. The whole range can be seen below:

4 Elements II Special Edition
A World of Keflings
Adera: Episode 1
Adera: Episode 2
Adera: Episode 3
Angry Birds
Angry Birds Space
Big Buck Hunter Pro
BlazBlue Calamity Trigger
Collateral Damage
Crash Course GO
Cut the Rope
Disney Fairies
Dragon's Lair
Field & Stream Fishing
Fruit Ninja
Gravity Guy
Gunstringer: Dead Man Running
Hydro Thunder Hurricane
iStunt 2
Jetpack Joyride
Kinectimals Unleashed
Microsoft Mahjong
Microsoft Minesweeper
Microsoft Solitaire Collection
Monster Island
PAC-MAN Championship Edition DX
Pinball FX 2
Reckless Racing Ultimate
Rocket Riot 3D
Shark Dash
Shuffle Party
Skulls of the Shogun
Team Crossword
The Harvest HD
Toy Soldiers Cold War

It may seem like there is quite a negative feel in this section of our Windows 8 review, but despite a lack of excitement over Metro titles and that part of Windows 8 in general for desktop computing, Windows 8 shows performance improvements for gamers, especially once the drivers start to mature.

No you canít avoid Metro and itís going to be a love it or hate it experience for many, but it isnít the disaster that many companies will have you believe and from my past few weeks using Windows 8 specifically for gaming I havenít run into any problems what so ever.


 ę Windows Store Advanced Features - Part 1 Ľ



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