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Alienware's Steam Machine Fully Announced, They Aren't Using SteamOS

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Alienware have fully announced their Steam Machine at E3 and drum roll....it doesn't include SteamOS, but has a custom UI on top of Windows 8.1 and bundled with a 360 game-pad. So, with SteamOS not out yet and Steam Controllers being delayed how many more will "do an Alienware" and simply re-brand them into Windows Steam Machines?

Something I have said before is that if it doesn't have SteamOS or a Steam Controller then how is it a Steam Machine? It isn't. The entire point of Steam Machines are to have Valve's software on it.

Something I have been thinking about a lot is that it seems a lot of people (me included) are betting on Steam Machines with SteamOS being a success, but what happens if they fail?

SteamOS & Steam Machines aren't going to sell well compared to the big consoles that's for sure. We even have Alienware stating they feel it will be their lowest earner, which is a fair point as they cannot put a big mark-up on it as they have to compete with other providers.
I imagine the other Steam Machine providers feel the same way that it will only be a small earner for them, I wouldn't be surprised if there is low productions runs to begin with from all companies.

A bit of a shame as Valve have already done a lot of good for us even if the machines are a flop, we have seen driver improvements from all sides giving us better performance. We have bigger game companies porting to Linux like the Metro series, The Witcher 2, the new Civilization game, XCOM and plenty more on the way.

Steam Machines may soon become the Android of the PC space, with multiple different providers fighting against each other all with wildly varying configurations that game developers have to test against, although that's not new for the PC space. The controller should have been one solid thing game developers can build against since they will all be the same, but with Alienware just bundling a 360 game-pad it's not looking good there either.

Realistically SteamOS and Steam Machines were never going to be an overnight success anyway, but more of a gradual build-up and I just hope journalists out there don't do what they usually do and put a negative spin on it if it doesn't sell like hot cakes right away.

What if Steam Machines don't sell well at all? I imagine all the vendors are projecting low margins, but what if they are vastly lower than their own predictions? We will then see the big media websites telling everyone how poorly they are selling and developers may re-consider their stances on porting to Linux. I would hope that's not the case, but we have to be realistic about this. Especially now we have one of the bigger companies (Alienware) sidestepping both SteamOS and the Steam Controller to make...a normal PC with a custom UI *sigh*.

Mac gaming seems to be doing okay with support from big developers and publishers without dedicated Mac gaming machines, so considering Linux is free and can be installed on any PC I personally think we will be okay. We just have to keep up the momentum of new games that we have right now.

The good thing is we still have GOG.com to support us yet with their DRM free goodness and their new GOG Galaxy client, as there are plenty of people who don't particularly like Steam and GOG.com has a massive customer-base. We also still have the Humble Indie Bundles and the Humble PC & Android bundles which fill us up with a truck load of games on every release. So, even if things with Steam Machines don't go as well as lot of people hope I think we will be okay.

No matter what happens though, you can be sure we will still always report on Linux gaming, we always have even when the big gaming websites ignored it (most still do).

What are your thoughts on the future of Steam Machines?

UPDATE: It seems they will still be going to SteamOS in future, but still I can't help but think they should have just waited.

AlienwareSteamOS is obviously been designed around one single use, whereas Windows is a multi-use operating system that can be custom tailored around any one particular use—as we're doing [with Alienware Alpha's console mode], but Valve has a lot more control developing SteamOS, ensuring it's singularly focused with one use model. That's why it's a very important initiative for us, and one we're still fully supporting as soon as it's ready. It's a more sustainable way of delivering a reliable living room experience. We can build our custom [console UI] interface over Windows, but we don't know what Windows 9's going to be. Are we going to have to redo all that work in Windows 9?

That's why we feel that over the long term, SteamOS and the Steam gamepad are going to be the best solution.

It's interesting to see them question if they will have to re-do their work for the next version of Windows, as if they waited for SteamOS to be a true Steam Machine then they wouldn't have had to spend money on R&D for this custom UI slapped onto Windows 8.1.

Source Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
Tags: Hardware, Steam
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I am the owner of GamingOnLinux. After discovering Linux back in the days of Mandrake in 2003, I constantly came back to check on the progress of Linux until Ubuntu appeared on the scene and it helped me to really love it. You can reach me easily by emailing GamingOnLinux directly.
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45 comments
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natty 10 Jun, 2014
SteamOS simply isn't ready yet. I tried my hardest to install it on my new home built steam machine and I just couldn't do it. And I'm no noob.
Put ubuntu on and steam runs fine.
Don't see why alienware can't stick a linux distro on though.
Deformal 10 Jun, 2014
Quoting: nattySteamOS simply isn't ready yet. I tried my hardest to install it on my new home built steam machine and I just couldn't do it. And I'm no noob.
Put ubuntu on and steam runs fine.
Don't see why alienware can't stick a linux distro on though.
Because this Steam Box with Linux (not Steam OS) don`t buy a lot of people.
As I remember, Alienware published, that their steam machine will have Steam OS and Windows. So what the problem? They will show us Steam Machine with Steam OS, when Steam OS will be ready.
As for me, I `ll buy PS4 or Steam Machine with Steam controller and Steam OS in early 2015.
Anonymous 10 Jun, 2014
That's fine. Valve isn't ready, but it doesn't necessarily mean that alienware wont ever release a SteamOS system, just that they have decided to release something in the mean time to fill the gap, and why not. They can use this to iron out the issues and build a bit of momentum, so that when the time comes, they have a head start on their competitors.
Hamish 10 Jun, 2014
All of this talk of what would happen if Steam Machines fail reminds me of a conversation my mother had with her mother about what she would have done if the Cuban Missile Crisis had turned out differently and resulted in a nuclear war and socioeconomic collapse. My grandmother commented that they would just go back to how they lived during the Great Depression, something which at the time was easily in living memory.

The main advantage we have now as compared to the Loki Linux gaming boom is that we have a much more diverse ecosystem now than we did then - we are not dependant on a single vendor or a single distributor, despite the rush by some to put all of their eggs in Valve's basket. For me the turn-around for Linux gaming again really was in 2010 with the arrival of the Humble Indie Bundle and the initial flood of independent interest; indeed, I have been playing an almost continual catch up with my ever growing gaming library since at least 2011, long before Valve arrived.

For this reason I myself am not overly concerned by any of this, as I have tapped myself into a stronger diverse well not tied as heavily into consumer trends and myopic AAA interest. It just goes to show that we do need to remember where we came from, and that there still is a need to be ready to fallback to old stalwarts if/when things do go wrong.
Steampunk 10 Jun, 2014
Quoting: LiamSomething I have said before is that if it doesn't have SteamOS or a Steam Controller then how is it a Steam Machine? It isn't. The entire point of Steam Machines are to have Valve's software on it.

Sure, it is!

What is a Steam Machine? It's a PC with SteamOS on it.
What is SteamOS? It's a Debian Linux plus some Valve Software on it.

Quoting: AlienwareSteamOS is obviously been designed around one single use, whereas Windows is a multi-use operating system that can be custom tailored around any one particular use

Sorry, but Alienware are Idiots and don't understand SteamOS/Linux at all.
Anonymous 10 Jun, 2014
Is this even legal? To call them steam machines :S. Well let microsoft try, not gonna buy it and I'm more intressted in linux future then what microsoft are trying to sell us.
Deformal 10 Jun, 2014
Wow Civ 5 on Linux!
Anonymous 10 Jun, 2014
I think they're fools. Smallest earner? Sure, and it'll be an even smaller earner if they have to pay for a Windows license on each one. And develop their own custom console-ish UI. And potentially have the Valve folks say sorry, you can't call that a Steam Machine and we'll sue for trademark or whatever, or sorry, if you're gonna do that we're charging you retail for the controlller.
So unless there's some kind of sweetener behind the scenes from Microsoft (distinctly possible) I think they're taking an addlepated approach.

(Addlepated a change because a different synonym was turned down by GoL as not nice enough. Thank you, thesaurus)
Purple Library Guy 10 Jun, 2014
In any case, near as I can figure SteamOS is not the delay factor here. SteamOS works fine in itself, doubtless a bit of bugfixing and polish still to do but basically no worries, it's just Debian. And at the rate things are going I think even graphics drivers are gonna be OK by release date. It's the controller that's delaying things, right? So what's the point in shipping early without the OS, when the OS is basically ready but the controller isn't? What are they gonna do, ship a Steam Machine with neither SteamOS nor the controller?
That'd be a bit of a laugh. Doubt it'd sell, which would be fine except it could create bad publicity for the Steam Machines in general.
Bob 11 Jun, 2014
Sigh, I enjoy using linux and it's my daily driver at home. But reading some of the invective rage filled comments makes me very very disappointed at the lack of critical thinking.

Alienware have always said the thing would be out in the third quarter of 2014. Valve bless them have decided to delay releasing the Steam Controller and thus Steam OS until 2015.

Imagine you have set up a materials and parts contracts, supply chain, had custom boards designed and produced, production line, distribution, warehousing and advertising for a brand new product and tied it to a specific date for your financial results. Then your crucial external partner turns around and goes 'oops we underestimated our beta period' we have to delay by an unspecified amount of time that will likely be 9 months away. No business would take a massive financial hit like that without trying to make some of that investment back. That's all this is. To an end user as long as the thing goes straight into Big Picture they won't really know or care about the difference snyway.

I'm not sure why Alienware are idiots here.
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