Why Windows won't be a roadblock for SteamOS

Today in Open Source: Will Windows stop SteamOS in its tracks? Plus: More speculation about Apple and Pear OS, and a review of Netrunner 13.12

By , ITworld |  Open Source, Linux, open source

SteamOS versus native Windows gaming
Ars Technica has a very negative view of the future of SteamOS.

Looking at these arguments as a potential consumer, none of them are really that convincing. The Steam client on Windows already has a Big Picture mode that makes it work just as well as a "part of the living room" as SteamOS does. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to tell at a glance whether a computer is running SteamOS or a Windows-based Big Picture mode. Controlling the boot-up experience and launching to Steam right out of the box is nice, but it's trivial to get a Windows box to boot directly to Big Picture mode as soon as the system starts if that's what you really want.

Streaming games from an existing gaming rig is nice as well, but that living room "receiver" can just as easily be a Windows machine that can stream games and run more games natively. Plus, this streaming feature is only really useful if you already have a high-end Windows machine somewhere in the house—it's not really an option for console players who want to check out the PC gaming world they're missing.

...the major selling points for SteamOS can largely be countered with an argument along the lines of "but Steam for Windows does that too... and more."

More at Ars Technica

Tux Blows Up Windows

The writer raises a good point about the appeal of native Windows games, and the much larger library of games for that platform. However, he assumes that that will be enough to keep people using the Windows version of Steam.

I disagree with that because I believe that there are many people who have had enough of Windows altogether. We've seen a very low adoption rate for Windows 8, and the interface changes to that version of Windows have caused some people to abandon Windows for Linux or OS X.

In addition, there are now millions and millions of people who have been using Android on their phones and tablets. Chromebooks are also seeing a huge upswing in popularity. The folks using these different operating systems have realized that they don't need Windows on their mobile devices, so why would they stick with it if there's a viable alternative for gaming from Valve?

Game developers have also realized that there are other markets besides Windows where they can make lots of money selling their games. Does anybody really think that a Windows app store is going to suddenly change their minds about diversifying their income streams by creating games for Android and other platforms? SteamOS is simply another opportunity for game developers to establish their independence from Microsoft's operating system.

I also don't buy the argument about Windows having more games. In the short run that's true, but in the long run there's no guarantee that it will continue. Valve is launching an entirely new platform, and we are still in the very early days of its existence.

Looking ahead five years does anybody think that Windows will still enjoy the advantage of having such a larger library of games? I doubt it very much since the basis of that is rooted in a time when the market for PCs was expanding in a big way and Windows ruled the computing world with an iron fist. Those days are gone forever.

We simply aren't living in a world where Windows is central to everybody's computing experiences or needs. That world ended with the mobile revolution, and now a similar revolution is coming to living room gamers via SteamOS. The cynicism of the article at Ars Technica is rooted in a world that just doesn't exist any more.

Windows has become optional, and SteamOS is going to be one of the final nails in its coffin.

More speculation about Apple and Pear
LinuxInsider explores the question of Apple's possible involvement in the disappearance of Pear OS.

Here in the Linux community, it's no secret that there are more flavors of our favorite operating system than most of us can keep track of.

That doesn't mean, however, that one can just up and disappear without anyone noticing.

Case in point: Pear OS. One day it's freely available for download, offering a remarkably Mac-like experience that's nevertheless based on Linux. The next day -- specifically, last Monday -- it's gone.

More at LinuxInsider

I noted a while back that Apple's involvement in Pear OS is quite doubtful. If Apple had even noticed or cared about Pear OS then I think the company's lawyers would have taken the lead.

As far as I can tell there wasn't anything that Pear OS had that Apple would have wanted or needed. So it's quite doubtful that Apple was involved in any way with Pear OS becoming unavailable. But it sure does make for some great conspiracy theories.

Netrunner 13.12 review
DistroWatch has a review of Netrunner 13.12.

Netrunner strives to be an easy to use desktop operating system that completes most tasks with free software while offering convenient add-ons and web-based solutions to round out the user experience.

I came away with a mostly positive opinion of Netrunner because the project does several things well. Having a pleasant website with useful documentation that is easy to find is a good starting point. The desktop and application menus are a pleasant combination of classic and modern, managing to be familiar while improving on the traditional desktop design. The system installer is one of the better installers I have used recently which makes for a good early impression.

More at DistroWatch

Netrunner 13.12 Review
Image credit: DistroWatch

The points in the review about having a useful web site resonated with me. All too often I've seen some really awful distro sites that don't provide enough useful information. It's great that the Netrunner developers have avoided that failing, and made sure that their site has real value to Netrunner users (especially the ones that are very new to Linux).

What's your take on all this? Tell me in the comments below.

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