One of the most interesting parts of covering the mobile gaming industry for this column is watching technologies move at such blinding speeds. Just over the course of this column's run, I have seen my own tech double and triple in speed while halving in size and weight. I've also had to try to predict how the market will go so I can keep an eye on games and genres.
In one of the stranger turns of recent events, I've watched as Windows 8, RT, and 8.1 have slowly crept into the market in an attempt to pull people back
to the desktop... sort of. This is all possible simply because the desktop PC has reimagined itself in a smaller form, something that I am fond of seeing. Even though I predict that gamers will one day do everything on a tablet (with an optional dock or larger-screen connection), I have to admit that I am surprised at how fast Windows tablets are moving into the spotlight. Sure, they are claiming just a single-digit percentage of the marketplace according to this report in April
, well behind Android and iOS, but the numbers continue to rise. That's pretty startling.
What does this mean for MMO gamers?
Don't get me wrong; I am not claiming that iOS or Android is dying off while Microsoft takes back the lead with the new Surface 2. No, it's too early to claim anything like that. What I am talking about is a cultural shift towards acceptance of the OS that will likely continue to grow thanks to tinier desktops and the widespread use of the Windows desktop OS.
When I mention tiny desktops, I am not talking a literal desktop PC that has a smaller footprint. I am referring to miniature PCs that run full Windows 8.1. I've talked about Windows RT before
, and Microsoft swears that the OS is sticking around. I like RT just fine, but that's only because it is a fine OS, not because it gives access to a useless desktop. Windows RT was not a bad OS because it ran poorly or was ugly to look at; it is mostly just an OS with fewer app and game choices.
At the time that I bought my Windows RT tablet, full Windows tablets were not as common as they are now. Now we are seeing full Windows running on a large variety of devices, from Dell's Venue 8 and 11
to other companies' portable PCs
. The newer line of Intel processors promise longer battery life with more power than previous processors and can run full Windows, unlike ARM-based processors that can run only RT. That means tablets that run a full Windows experience are becoming more common. It does not mean that we will soon replace massive, high-powered desktops with a small tablet -- not yet anyway -- but the currently strong tablet and mobile market will only grow stronger because it is now absorbing
the PC market.