If you’ve managed to tear yourself away from gaming for 5 seconds you’ll probably have heard that the Windows 8 release preview is out, and that the full operating system will be released later this year.
Now this probably won’t bother you if you’re happy with Windows 7, but if you’re the type to update to the latest and greatest you’ll probably have some questions about how this new operating system will affect your gaming experience. The answers are mostly positive – read on to find out why:
The first thing any gamer will ask is, “What about performance?”. Well performance is good; in fact you should see performance improvements by moving from Windows 7 to Windows 8.
Windows 8 has better memory management than previous versions, especially when you start using large amounts of RAM (16GB or more). Alongside this improved memory management sits more efficient use of multi-core processors.
AMD has been claiming that Bulldozer’s performance will improve on Windows 8, and some early tests have confirmed that there are some performance improvements, though when it comes to games the two OS’s are neck and neck.
Backwards and forwards compatibility
Initial testing around the web suggests that if the game runs on Windows 7, it will run smoothly on Windows 8. This was true during our own testing with titles such as Skyrim, Battlefield 3 and Metro 2033, each game performed without complaint, and no bugs cropped up during testing.
Windows 8 will also have the benefit of supporting Microsoft’s next version of DirectX, which comes with a new Windows Display Driver Model (WDDM). This new WDDM includes a range of performance enhancing features such as built in stereoscopic 3D support, improved video playback, pre-emptive multi-tasking and a lower video memory footprint.
So not only will Windows 8 support previous generation games without a hiccup, modern games making use of the new DirectX model will be supported right out the box.
Hardware compatibility also deserves a mention. In testing Windows 8 on a range of hardware we didn’t run into any driver issues with hardware that worked under Windows 7. Graphics, audio, network and chipset drivers worked as they should have, so users shouldn’t encounter any hardware issues when upgrading to Windows 8.
Xbox live integration
A range of Xbox Live apps were available in the Windows 8 release preview, including the Video, Music, Games, and Xbox Companion apps.
Xbox Companion is quite interesting for those who game across multiple platforms. The app lets you access media through your Xbox LIVE account using your Windows 8 device, then play it back on your TV through your Xbox 360 console.
Gamers will be able to use touch, mouse, and keyboard inputs to navigate and control the content playback with the app. The app also shows detailed information about the movies, TV shows, games, or music that is playing.
Gamertags are also integrated throughout the Xbox Live apps, so once you’ve stored your details, you’ll automatically be signed in before using the apps.
So should you upgrade?
If you’re considering upgrading to Windows 8 when it comes out, but are worried that your games will be affected, don’t be. The transition from Windows 7 to 8 is as smooth as can be, and Windows 8 has the benefit of improved performance and Xbox Live integration – there is no reason to look back.