Developer claims Linux forced Microsoft to up its Windows game support
In 2012, Gabe Newell, CEO of the major Steam game platform company #Valve, snarled ” #Windows8 is a catastrophe for everyone in the PC space.” His solution? Bring Steam to #Linux.
What drove him to that decision was the gaming bottom line: Performance. Valve’s developers found that an early Linux version runs faster than the Windows version thanks to the “underlying efficiency of the [Linux] kernel and OpenGL”.
Newell did more than just start porting the Steam platform and games to Linux. He started working on his own gaming-specific, Debian-based Linux distribution, SteamOS, and gaming PCs, Steam Machines, to support it.
That was the plan. The reality was it took Valve and its partners, PC OEMs such as Alienware, Falcon Northwest, and Gigabyte, far longer than expected to ship the Linux-powered gaming PCs. It wasn’t until 2014 that the first two Steam Machines shipped.
According to Frank Azor, co-founder of #Alienware, #Dell ‘s gaming division and an early #SteamMachine supporter, in a PC Gamer interview, “The catalyst for the Steam Machine initiative was really around what Microsoft’s decisions were with Windows 8, and if you remember that operating system, it really stepped away from gamers in a big way. We were concerned as an industry that we were going to lose PC gamers on the Windows platform to any other platform that was out there, whether it was console, Mac OS X, Android.”
However, “Microsoft learned a very valuable lesson — a lot of valuable lessons — with Windows 8 and tried to correct those with Windows 10. It’s more gamer focused, I would say. Every subsequent release has focused on gamers. Although their execution isn’t perfect, it’s definitely improved compared to Windows 8.”
That, combined with the delays, left far less market room for Steam Machines. Ironically, according to Rich Geldreich, former Valve programmer and co-owner of Binomial, a video graphics startup, Valve’s support for Linux gaming forced Microsoft to up its “game”.