I recently bought GTA 4 as part of a deal on Steam, and it’s a horrific example of how broken the windows install process is.
- Locate and download new graphics drivers specifically for this game.
- Install the DirectX runtime, and while I’m there a popup on the Microsoft website asks me if I want to download some extra anti-virus software. No thanks.
- Download the actual game files, this is very straightforward but the whole 15GB download takes a while and it has a tendency to stutter and cut out from time to time. I guess this is a problem with my internet connection.
- Try to launch the executable, it fails because it can’t reach the key server and I need to wait for more keys to become available. What is this farce?
- The game installer wants me to download dot NET 3.5, okay so I go get that, then it wants me to reboot.
- The installer now wants me to download an outdated version of Games for Windows LIVE which no longer exists on Microsoft’s website. No problem, I’ll just get the newest version, which is just rebranded ‘games for windows’. And it wants me to reboot again.
- The installer goes and checks with securom, a DRM system. This is on top of Steam and the key it wanted me to put in at the beginning. How many times do I have to prove my copy of the game is legitimate?
- Try to launch the game, it won’t let me online without a Rockstar Social Club account. I don’t want to sign up for a whole new service just to play this game so I just click ‘play offline’.
- Nothing happens. I click ‘play offline’ again, nothing happens. Click, nothing. Click, nothing.
Compare this with installing some ordinary program on Ubuntu: you go to the software centre, click ‘install’ and it just takes care of it. And it sets up any necessary dependencies you might need.
It might not be a fair comparison but GTA on Windows took a good hour of messing about just to get started.