Why is Alienware launching a Steam Machine with Windows instead of SteamOS?

In today's open source roundup: Alienware's Alpha Steam Machine will launch with Windows 8.1, not SteamOS. Plus: HP moves away from Windows and Microsoft, and a review of OpenMandriva Lx 2014

By , ITworld |  Open Source, Linux, steamos

Valve's decision to delay the release of its Steam Machines has resulted in a strange move by Alienware. Instead of waiting for SteamOS, Alienware will launch its Steam Machine device with Windows 8.1 and target it to consumers as a living room PC.

According to the Washington Post:

The Dell gaming division Alienware--which announced it was building a SteamOS-based system in January--said this week at the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, that it's on track to launch its "Steam Machine" by this holiday season, priced at $549. But here's the hitch for Valve: Alienware's product, called "The Alpha," will come with a Xbox 360 controller and Microsoft's Windows 8.1 operating system--not SteamOS.

While not a complete disaster for Valve--the new machine will include instructions on how to install the beta version of SteamOS--it certainly seems like a setback: Alienware is the highest profile partner Valve was able to recruit for its open platform project -- and even though by all accounts Alienware is still on board running SteamOS on its machines down the line, Alienware's willingness to take on the living room market with an operating system Valve CEO Gabe Newell once called a "catastrophe" is pretty bad optics.

More at the Washington Post

Alienware Launches Steam Machine With Windows 8.1
Image credit: The Washington Post

While I can understand the financial difficulties inherent in waiting for a final release of SteamOS, I'm not sure that this is such a great idea on Alienware's part. Is there really a market for this kind of device based on Windows? It seems to me that SteamOS was the big attraction for users who might buy a Steam Machine. I can't really see the appeal of a Windows-based Steam Machine.

Perhaps I'm wrong and Alienware will have a big success on its hands with The Alpha. But my guess is that it will probably fade away into almost total irrelevance very quickly once gamers realize that they're basically just buying a Windows gaming device with the same old drawbacks and headaches as a regular Windows PC.

HP moves away from Windows and Microsoft
Softpedia has an intriguing article about HP apparently changing its direction by moving away from Microsoft and Windows.

According to Softpedia:

HP CEO Meg Whitman revealed at her annual customer conference this week that the company is working on a brand new device called “The Machine” which would comprise several new technologies, such as a new type of memory, but would also run a brand new operating system.

And no, we're not talking about Windows 9, but about a completely new OS that will be developed by HP itself, which is clearly just another move to help the company detach from the Microsoft partnership.

More at Softpedia

What an interesting move by Hewlett Packard, it's another indication of Microsoft's grip on industry loosening significantly. Between things like this and Microsoft's failures in mobile, it's very clear that the old days of Microsoft's domination of computing are way, way behind us.

Business Week has more information about The Machine:

According to Businessweek:

That’s what they’re calling it at HP Labs: “the Machine.” It’s basically a brand-new type of computer architecture that HP’s engineers say will serve as a replacement for today’s designs, with a new operating system, a different type of memory, and superfast data transfer. The company says it will bring the Machine to market within the next few years or fall on its face trying. “We think we have no choice,” says Martin Fink, the chief technology officer and head of HP Labs, who is expected to unveil HP’s plans at a conference Wednesday.

The Machine started to take shape two years ago, after Fink was named director of HP Labs. Assessing the company’s projects, he says, made it clear that HP was developing the needed components to create a better computing system. Among its research projects: a new form of memory known as memristors; and silicon photonics, the transfer of data inside a computer using light instead of copper wires.

More at Businessweek

The Machine doesn't sound like something we'll see soon though, but it certainly seems worth keeping an eye on. It could eventually be a very big deal if HP is successful in making it viable in the marketplace.

OpenMandriva Lx 2014 review
LinuxBSDos has a full review of OpenMandriva Lx, and notes that the installer is in dire need of some serious changes.

According to LinuxBSDos:

OpenMandriva Lx 2014 offers users a stable, new user-friendly operating system for desktop computing. It is one of a handful of KDE-centric Linux distributions to choose from, and it could easily be in the high end of the pack. I said could, because the installer is a drawback, and a major one. Not only because it does not support full disk encryption, but support for computers with UEFI firmware is still very shaky.

More at LinuxBSDos

OpenMandriva Lx 2014 review
Image credit: LinuxBSDos

It's a real shame the installer is so bad in this distro. Hopefully the developers will take the criticism in this review to heart and improve it in the next release. Here are some helpful links if you're interested in getting more information about OpenMandriva:

OpenMandriva Site
OpenMandriva Download
OpenMandriva Forums
OpenMandriva Wiki

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

The opinions expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the views of ITworld.

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