Windows 8 One Year Later: Is It Good For Gaming?

It’s been a bumpy road for Windows 8 and its gaming platform. Microsoft recently had to fix issues with version 8.1, which created mouse-pointer problems in certain games, PC world reports. All this only adds to an 18-month pile of criticism following the new operating system from the gaming community. Now that Windows 8 is past its first birthday (and on its second version with 8.1), it’s easier to see through the dust of bad press and jarring first impressions. Can we finally decide if Windows 8 is the best platform for gaming?

Performance Specs and Windows 7

Early complaints with Windows 8 were that its massive size would run games slower than Windows 7 and, in some cases, those complaints were valid. The new OS took on a massive UI overhaul to reflect an experience more similar to Xbox and Windows Phone (known as Metro) while also giving users the option to switch back to the classic view. Keeping both in one OS meant massive space occupied on the hard drive and more RAM to keep operations running smoothly.

Another major difference between Windows 7 and 8 is the use of DirectX. Previous versions of Windows relied on DirectX to power gaming graphics, but Windows 8 uses DirectX only to enhance existing graphics powered by the OS. This seems like a bonus on paper, but the new order of operations can negatively affect performance in games designed pre-Windows 8.

Cross-Platform Multiplayer Gaming

Microsoft’s big-picture vision with Windows 8 could soon come to fruition. As gaming exists today, players on Xbox, Playstation and PC are secluded to their own networks and servers. A person playing a first-person shooter game on the Xbox 360 can’t join a match in the same game on Playstation 3 or PC. But the Xbox One and Windows 8 could be the first cross-platform experience to break those barriers.

Phil Spencer of Microsoft Gaming Studios dropped a few hints at a recent event to suggest this cross-platform dream could soon be a reality, which would make up for much of the negative criticism Windows 8 has had. The move could pave the way for gamers to own the same game on multiple platforms in the future. That means a gamer with a Battlefield 4 PC download could pick up from the same save spot on the Xbox One. Nothing Spencer said at the event suggests the latter, but it is something gamers desire and a feature Steam offers on multiple machines.

So, Is Windows 8 Better?

The short answer: Not yet. Windows 7 outperforms on most popular games, and the cross-platform world between Windows 8 and Xbox doesn’t exist yet. That doesn’t mean it won’t. Now that Windows 8 is more than a year old, developers have had time to create games designed to use Window’s new application of DirectX and optimize performance for Windows 8. Once the library of games catches up and cross-platform becomes a reality, Windows 8 will reign supreme as the best PC-gaming platform.