What Microsoft Should Have Done

Soren Johnson, lead designer of Civilization 4:

The answer is to make digital games so attractive that players will abandon physical discs on their own. (One might call this the Steam strategy.) Microsoft could have avoided this whole fiasco by maintaining the old disc-based ecosystem while softly undermining it with three moves that create an alternate digital future.

Combined, these three changes would destroy the traditional retail market. The $40 price would make digital games cheaper at release; the ongoing heavy sales would undercut the used games market; and persistence would make digital games easier to maintain across multiple devices. Microsoft needs to make buying games digitally a better deal for the consumer than buying them physically.

I was extremely disappointed to hear Microsoft cave in to rabid demands to maintain the status quo. I was really looking forward to their plans for combined physical and digital ownership, where I could get all the benefits of buying physical copies, including special and collectors’ editions of my favorite titles, while simultaneously retaining all the benefits of a digital copy, like the ability to forego disc-swapping.

How long will we have to wait for consoles to catch up with Steam?

Break Sites Now to Make Sites Later

On the topic of IE8:

How about rather than asking web designers, server owners and IT staff everywhere to add some hack tag to their code, you force IE8 into compatibility mode unless a designer specifically enables IE8 rendering on their page by adding said tag? That mediates the issue pretty easily.

They [Microsoft] were originally planning to require a special tag to enable standards compliance in IE8, but there was a gigantic backlash from the web development and standards community.

Why? Because then we get nowhere; all the clueless web designers never find out about the special tag to make IE8 comply with internet standards, and continue making web pages for the broken IE rendering model for the next 10 years.

We need to make all those old websites break, because otherwise they’ll never comply with modern standards. We need to have standards based rendering be the default because then the designers that test against IE8 will be making sites that work better with other browsers.

By forcing developers to realize that their websites are non-compliant (either from angry users or specifically forcing quirks mode) and by defaulting to standards-based rendering, we make the web design future a much nicer place to be.