Microsoft's Windows 8 is taking some heat in the world of online games. Both Valve (builder of the Steam gaming platform) and Blizzard (World of War Craft) appear to be criticizing the Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) Windows Store strategy, and Valve is hedging its Windows bets with a Linux strategy. Why should business channel partners care? Here's the update.

Valve predicts Windows 8 will be a "catastrophe" for everyone in the PC market, drive some PC makers and OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) out of the Windows 8 sector. In response, Blizzard Entertainment Executive Rob Pardo took to Twitter and said Windows 8 is "not awesome for Blizzard either."

Is there something wrong with Windows 8 in the gaming market? Or are Valve and Blizzard simply concerned about their own online gaming empires? Before you answer consider each vendor's core markets and upcoming moves:
  • Valve promotes Steam, an online game platform of sorts -- thought it's best described as an online store where "over 1,100 games are available to purchase, download, and play from any computer."
  • Blizzard, meanwhile, operates World if Warcraft -- a massively multiplayer online game that apparently has about 10 million players.
  • Microsoft, meanwhile, wants to funnel Windows 8 app sales through the Windows Store.
Read between the lines and perhaps Valve and Blizzard are more concerned about the future of software distribution via online stores, and far less concerned about Windows 8 itself.

In the business market, VARs already know more and more apps will flow directly from Microsoft to end-users. The forthcoming Office 2013 release seems like a subscription-centric upgrade that won't have much partner opportunity. But Microsoft is taking steps elsewhere to keep channel partners engaged. An example: Introducing Office 365 Open, a SaaS platform that allows channel partners to manage end-customer billing.

Back in the world of Windows 8 gaming, Valve and Blizzard seem irate and underwhelmed by the forthcoming Microsoft operating system. But The VAR Guy considers the Valve and Blizzard statements to be grandstanding...