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Steam for Linux was started by ex-Microsoft developers

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How about we start Monday off with an interesting little titbit? According to a former Valve staffer, Steam for Linux was started up by ex-Microsoft employees.

The information comes from Richard Geldreich, part of the Linux team who left Valve back in 2014. On Twitter, Geldreich interestingly said this:

What isn't commonly known is that the original Steam Linux effort was started and led by a number of ex-Microsoft employees who, for various reasons, believed that Windows was going in the wrong direction.

Definitely something I didn't know. It sort of makes sense though, with many in the gaming and tech industry showing concern on where Microsoft was taking Windows. Valve's Gabe Newell (who also worked at Microsoft) famously said Windows 8 was "a catastrophe for everyone in the PC space" and that getting their games and Steam onto Linux was "a hedging strategy". From the big touch orientated interface that tried dropping the traditional desktop, to the hinted plans at pushing people towards the Windows Store there was a lot of ire aimed at Windows 8.

Getting Steam on Linux, and the original Valve blog posts like the "Faster Zombies!" lit a fire under Microsoft, clearly feeling a little threatened (or perhaps just motivated to do something) as Geldreich actually wrote on his blog back in 2017 that Microsoft ended up paying Valve a visit.

Without Valve's initial push into Linux, and their continued support with various projects and contracts with developers to work on improving all manner of things like the Linux Kernel, Mesa drivers and more, Linux gaming would have gone nowhere. It's still a tiny niche now of course, but it's come a very long way in terms of usability and performance.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
Tags: Editorial, Misc, Steam
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30 comments
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Ehvis 6 Jan
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I suppose it's fitting. Most Steam for Linux users, for various reasons, believed that Windows was going in the wrong direction as well.
Pangaea 6 Jan
Windows IS still going in the wrong direction. Long may it continue.
mirv 6 Jan
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Nothing surprising really. Valve's initial efforts on GNU/Linux were always a result of Microsoft's attempts to wall up everything. GNU/Linux wasn't ready for gaming at the time, but for a variety of reasons the potential started to appear and Valve kind of nudged (with a freight train) it along.

What's more surprising to me is Valve continuing. They won't be getting anywhere near a direct return on investments, at least I wouldn't think so, and it seems relatively little of their efforts are tied into Steam itself. Helping drivers, graphics, VR, etc, benefits more than Valve - it does help non-Steam users too. So maybe it's more about continued pressure on Microsoft than anything else.

Just me thinking out loud.
Hori 6 Jan
Quoting: PangaeaWindows IS still going in the wrong direction. Long may it continue.
But why tho?
What is the reason we "hate" Windows? Is it just because, or is it because it's going in a wrong direction?

Wouldn't it be better for everyone if it just started to go in a good direction instead?
Of course this is not likely to happen, but it's a valid question.

I for one wouldn't care for Linux growth if Windows would be a decent, non-spyware OS. Tho that doesn't mean I'd switch, far from it.


Last edited by Hori on 6 January 2020 at 12:35 pm UTC
Eike 6 Jan
Quoting: Hori
Quoting: PangaeaWindows IS still going in the wrong direction. Long may it continue.
But why tho?
What is the reason we "hate" Windows? Is it just because, or is it because it's going in a wrong direction?

Wouldn't it be better for everyone if it just started to go in a good direction instead?
Of course this is not likely to happen, but it's a valid question.

I for one wouldn't care for Linux growth if Windows would be a decent, non-spyware OS. Tho that doesn't mean I'd switch, far from it.

Yes, it's a valid question for sure.

Windows drove me away from Windows, but Linux made me stay at Linux.
Now I would want Linux to gain traction, which is easier as long as Windows s*cks.
Which would also help open source.
I'm not sure that's 100% rational, though. :)
dvd 6 Jan
Quoting: mirvNothing surprising really. Valve's initial efforts on GNU/Linux were always a result of Microsoft's attempts to wall up everything. GNU/Linux wasn't ready for gaming at the time, but for a variety of reasons the potential started to appear and Valve kind of nudged (with a freight train) it along.

What's more surprising to me is Valve continuing. They won't be getting anywhere near a direct return on investments, at least I wouldn't think so, and it seems relatively little of their efforts are tied into Steam itself. Helping drivers, graphics, VR, etc, benefits more than Valve - it does help non-Steam users too. So maybe it's more about continued pressure on Microsoft than anything else.

Just me thinking out loud.

I think continuing the effort also gives them an advantage, on one hand, if the user count grew, they would become the "google play store" of video games on linux, but they probably also benefit with gaining influence and connections with the various projects they throw their money and employers behind.
Well of course valve saw ms moves and didn't want to lose its marketplace share so investing in Linux made sense. The fact they are still pumping in money and people into dxvk and proton is to be honest a big surprise. Maybe they are using the old adage of eternal vidualance in case ms starts building that wall again
14 6 Jan
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Quoting: Hori
Quoting: PangaeaWindows IS still going in the wrong direction. Long may it continue.
But why tho?
What is the reason we "hate" Windows? Is it just because, or is it because it's going in a wrong direction?

Wouldn't it be better for everyone if it just started to go in a good direction instead?
Of course this is not likely to happen, but it's a valid question.

I for one wouldn't care for Linux growth if Windows would be a decent, non-spyware OS. Tho that doesn't mean I'd switch, far from it.
Spyware was a big part of it, but also a lot of choice was taken away in Windows. Windows tried to follow Mac's ease-of-use designs which ended up taking away several configuration choices. I like to say that the idea of running Windows didn't feel like it would be my computer anymore. Running Linux very much makes it feel like my computer again.

FWIW, I suspect Microsoft handles private data better than companies like Google and Facebook. I'm not sure so they'd go to bat against the government like Apple has though, especially since they've had a long history of government contracts.
Sojiro84 6 Jan
Quoting: 14
Quoting: Hori
Quoting: PangaeaWindows IS still going in the wrong direction. Long may it continue.
But why tho?
What is the reason we "hate" Windows? Is it just because, or is it because it's going in a wrong direction?

Wouldn't it be better for everyone if it just started to go in a good direction instead?
Of course this is not likely to happen, but it's a valid question.

I for one wouldn't care for Linux growth if Windows would be a decent, non-spyware OS. Tho that doesn't mean I'd switch, far from it.
Spyware was a big part of it, but also a lot of choice was taken away in Windows. Windows tried to follow Mac's ease-of-use designs which ended up taking away several configuration choices. I like to say that the idea of running Windows didn't feel like it would be my computer anymore. Running Linux very much makes it feel like my computer again.

FWIW, I suspect Microsoft handles private data better than companies like Google and Facebook. I'm not sure so they'd go to bat against the government like Apple has though, especially since they've had a long history of government contracts.

Yup, I left about a year ago because if the builtin spyware. I also was constantly redoing my system tweaks where most of them got reverted after a big update for Windows was release.

I also was frustrated with the inconsistent design. Some parts are made for tablet users, other parts are made for the good old PC day's, it was and still is a big mess.

I also don't care about any of those useless UWP apps that Microsoft made. I just want a desktop designed for the PC with a consistent design everywhere. I also hated how theming is impossible on Windows. Sure, you can apply a 3rd part crack that enables some theming but with Windows there is a high chance of that patch breaking your system or the next Windows Update will break it or will make your theme stop working.

So Linux for me. It fixes all of the above problems and I get a lof of new stuff that is cool. Only downside is that some multiplayer games don't work, but all in all, it is perfect.
Gryxx 6 Jan
Quoting: mirvNothing surprising really. Valve's initial efforts on GNU/Linux were always a result of Microsoft's attempts to wall up everything. GNU/Linux wasn't ready for gaming at the time, but for a variety of reasons the potential started to appear and Valve kind of nudged (with a freight train) it along.

What's more surprising to me is Valve continuing. They won't be getting anywhere near a direct return on investments, at least I wouldn't think so, and it seems relatively little of their efforts are tied into Steam itself. Helping drivers, graphics, VR, etc, benefits more than Valve - it does help non-Steam users too. So maybe it's more about continued pressure on Microsoft than anything else.

Just me thinking out loud.
Surprising, but understandable. Before Linux there was barley a choice- while you could game on Mac, i would not propose it as alternative price-wise. During this time there was no one who could oppose Microsoft. It was rather "deal with it or disappear" scenario. Now, there's a backup plan. Now Microsoft most consider its moves, one big misstep along the way can irreversibly push their userbase onto alternatives. You can clearly see in the comments that even small design changes can be turnover point for some. Of course, we are still too small to really count- but i think it is safe to assume that because of use Microsoft started listening to its customers.
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