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Valve's SteamOS Not a Replacement for Windows 8

By - Source: Engadget | B 12 comments

Although this was touched lightly on Monday, Engadget's hands-on report regarding Valve's Steam Machine prototype revealed an interesting tidbit about SteamOS itself; it's not a replacement for Windows 8. This is likely bad news for PC gamers looking for an alternative operating system that not only plays Linux-based Steam games, but allows them to manage files, work on documents and use the Steam Machine as a typical desktop.

As previously reported, SteamOS is similar to Steam's Big Picture Mode except that this interface is the basis for the entire hardware system. Engadget reports that the same Steam splash page washes across the screen when it launches, and the same tile-based layout of games and the Steam store are visible at launch. The platform is also built on pure Linux, not Canonical's Ubuntu, making it a custom platform instead of a spinoff.

The report goes on to state that SteamOS is not a replacement for Windows 8, that it offers little functionality outside what's described above. "Beyond basics like browsing the web, there's little in the way of standard OS functions," Engadget reports. "While Valve reps showed off slides of the box's vanity shots using a Windows PC, I asked how I'd view such shots from within SteamOS -- the answer is that there's no real way to do so, as there's no file browsing system or image viewing application."

The report points out that customers of Valve's Steam Machine initiative aren't really shopping for a desktop PC, but essentially a game console that focuses on PC games rather than the typical Xbox/PlayStation envelopes. These machines will ship with a game controller and the SteamOS platform, thus allowing Valve to say that the device is capable of playing the entire Linux-based Steam library. However, the report puts an emphasis on what a Steam Machine really is: PCs posing as game consoles.

What's surprising is that, based on the report, there won't even be base level support for media playback, or streaming options like Netflix, Hulu Plus and so on that are offered on the current console crops. That will likely change, as Valve already indicated that movies and TV shows were coming to Steam; Linux-based software is also likely on the horizon. Unfortunately, the game streaming aspect wasn't available at the time of the report.

"We're working with many of the media services you know and love," reads the SteamOS page. "Soon we will begin bringing them online, allowing you to access your favorite music and video with Steam and SteamOS. With SteamOS, 'openness' means that the hardware industry can iterate in the living room at a much faster pace than they've been able to. Content creators can connect directly to their customers. Users can alter or replace any part of the software or hardware they want."

We're probably just scratching the surface of what's going to be possible with SteamOS. We're also betting even more juicy details will be provided during CES 2014, and we'll be right there front-and-center!

Check out all our SteamOS coverage below:

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  • 0 Hide
    WallaceMcG , 10 November 2013 14:07
    Just Ubuntu and Steam OS in dual boot.
  • 3 Hide
    LePhuronn , 10 November 2013 16:42
    And the fundamental issue with this entire concept is it's based on Linux, therefore the actual number of "PC" games that can run on a Steam Box is miniscule. I look at my current Steam library and I don't see a single game that can run on a Steam Box.

    Plus, the hardware is still PC bits, so a powerful Steam Box will cost the same as a powerful "traditional" gaming PC, so what's the cost of Windows on top of that?
  • 0 Hide
    brendonmc , 11 November 2013 13:23
    Gabe should have done this years ago..Great idea and will pay off big time. You just wait and see!
  • 0 Hide
    gopher1369 , 11 November 2013 14:44
    Quote:
    Plus, the hardware is still PC bits, so a powerful Steam Box will cost the same as a powerful "traditional" gaming PC, so what's the cost of Windows on top of that?


    That's not how I see it. Build a basic PC with a core i3 processor, integrated graphics, basic harddrive, Steam OS plugged into your TV. Costs, what? £200. Your existing gaming machine in your Office running Windows renders the game and streams it to the Steam OS box.

    I already do something very similar to this using Splashtop, render LOTRO on my gaming desktop and stream it to my laptop. It works really well.


    Edit: this also makes your point about Linux having limited game support moot.
  • 1 Hide
    fezztah , 11 November 2013 15:33
    I don't get who this is for? If you want to pay £300 for a quiet living room PC then you want it to do all the every day things as well as gaming (browsing, chat, facebook, streaming, recording TV, media library, etc). You can already do that if you pay £78 for win8.1 and then install Steam Big Picture. I suppose if you are a serious enthusiast and you want to play something that needs muscle, then the only option is to slave up to your gaming rig through a steam box. How many people is that though? Surely not many?
  • 0 Hide
    fezztah , 11 November 2013 15:33
    I don't get who this is for? If you want to pay £300 for a quiet living room PC then you want it to do all the every day things as well as gaming (browsing, chat, facebook, streaming, recording TV, media library, etc). You can already do that if you pay £78 for win8.1 and then install Steam Big Picture. I suppose if you are a serious enthusiast and you want to play something that needs muscle, then the only option is to slave up to your gaming rig through a steam box. How many people is that though? Surely not many?
  • 0 Hide
    fezztah , 11 November 2013 15:34
    I don't get who this is for? If you want to pay £300 for a quiet living room PC then you want it to do all the every day things as well as gaming (browsing, chat, facebook, streaming, recording TV, media library, etc). You can already do that if you pay £78 for win8.1 and then install Steam Big Picture. I suppose if you are a serious enthusiast and you want to play something that needs muscle, then the only option is to slave up to your gaming rig through a steam box. How many people is that though? Surely not many?
  • 0 Hide
    gopher1369 , 11 November 2013 15:55
    Quote:
    How many people is that though? Surely not many?


    True, probably the same people that bought an Nvidia Shield!

  • 1 Hide
    LePhuronn , 11 November 2013 22:36
    Quote:
    Quote:
    Plus, the hardware is still PC bits, so a powerful Steam Box will cost the same as a powerful "traditional" gaming PC, so what's the cost of Windows on top of that?


    That's not how I see it. Build a basic PC with a core i3 processor, integrated graphics, basic harddrive, Steam OS plugged into your TV. Costs, what? £200. Your existing gaming machine in your Office running Windows renders the game and streams it to the Steam OS box.

    I already do something very similar to this using Splashtop, render LOTRO on my gaming desktop and stream it to my laptop. It works really well.


    Edit: this also makes your point about Linux having limited game support moot.


    Assuming then you already have a gaming PC. What if you don't?
  • -1 Hide
    domimik86 , 12 November 2013 10:38
    There is a serious problem with Wndows 8.1, its getting closed off like Mac OSX and developers are having a hard time developing games for it. Direct X is archaic and bottlenecks GPUs. MS is pushing gaming towards X-Bone to make money and out of its Windows platform.

    This is why Linux gaming and this is why SteamOS came to be. We are abandoning MS it is as simple as that. Games that want to make it onto Steam will have to develop for Linux / OpenGL first. It looks like we are headed for such a future.

    I'll just dual boot LinuxMint and SteamOS on my SSD and done.
  • 1 Hide
    gopher1369 , 12 November 2013 12:37
    Quote:

    Assuming then you already have a gaming PC. What if you don't?


    Then this whole discussion is probably irrelevant to you and you are probably a happy console owner who has no intention of ever owning Steam OS / Steam Box / gaming PC.

    So yeah, I suppose the real question is: who exactly is Steam OS and Steam boxes targeted at?
  • 1 Hide
    LePhuronn , 13 November 2013 20:03
    I guess we'll see how the Steam Box pans out in the coming months. Right now it's up in the air and, beyond tech/geek discussion, I just cannot see what this is trying to achieve and who it's marketed at: hardware potentially up to 5 times the cost of a console with a practically non-existent (but growing) set of games to actually run on the thing.

    I do see great benefit in streaming games from my Titan-based system upstairs to the living room for group play, but in all honesty if I have any games that I want to play with other people in the living room then I'll probably already have them on my PS3 and fire that up instead. The only thing for me that a Steam Box could do is remove the need to buy a PS4 and just stream content from the Titan.