SteamOS or Windows?
Deciding on what Operating System you will run on a PC intended for Gaming is as easy as it can be. The answer today will be obvious – Windows. Although other Operating Systems – Mac and Linux are good enough choice for almost all other things you might do on a PC – from internet browsing, watching movies or editing spreadsheets and documents. Mac and Linux are excellent choice for PC Operating system apart from just 1 area – Gaming!
If you may not know, PC sales are plummeting these days mainly because of tablets and smartphones which can do almost everything that a PC can and are light and portable too. However, leading online game distributors – Steam & Origin have recorded drastic increase in sales of PC Games! How on earth can sales of PC Games increase drastically when the PC itself is selling less? The most appropriate answer I can think of is – although people are buying tablets and smartphones as they do most of the tasks that a PC can, except for one – mainstream gaming. Don’t get me wrong here, tablets and smartphones are in fact great portable gaming platforms, but they are no replacement for playing ultra-realistic first person shooters like Battlefield series or Call of Duty series, and they cannot play beautiful third person games like Tomb Raider (2013) and Assassin’s Creed series. Tablets and smartphones simply can’t match the experience offered by PC games yet. So, in-short – PC gamers are still interested in PCs and are buying games for the same, while non PC gamers have not much use of PC anymore and are preferring Tablets and Smartphones. So basically, I strongly feel that PC industry is benefiting a lot from PC Gamers.
Knowing the importance of PC Gaming industry, leading hardware and software companies are jumping on the trend. From better software, to better hardware – everything is being focused with PC Gamers in mind. One such thing is the topic of this article today – it is the SteamOS. Valve’s Steam was till now a Gaming Store introduced by Valve Corporation. Now Steam has 2 new iterations – SteamOS and Steam Boxes.
A little info on SteamOS :
SteamOS is based on Linux, Debian Linux to be precise. Which means SteamOS is free to use and upgrade. As of me writing this post – it’s still in beta and may have few bugs and glitches, so I won’t recommend you to try this unless you are an expert in Linux. SteamOS is being designed as the “living room” OS, so it boots directly to a video game console like user interface which makes navigation easier if you are using it sitting on a couch in your living room with a wireless video game controller in our hand. Although it does have a regular desktop mode if you are more comfortable with PC Gaming and prefer using mouse and keyboard instead of a game controller.
Final version of SteamOS will also allow you to buy & rent movies, tv shows and music to watch directly in the comfort of your living room. It also allows you to browse the internet with its web browser and supports innovative onscreen keyboard usable via the game controller.
Reasons to switch from Windows to SteamOS :
Provided that Valve enables full desktop interface in final version on SteamOS, and allows users to install software of their own choice without having to depend on the Steam Store – then there will be many reasons to switch to SteamOS.
- 1) FREE! SteamOS will be free, unlike Windows and will cut the cost of a gaming PC by around $100
- 2) There are already many versions of Linux Operating Systems which are free but SteamOS will be heavily optimized to run games. Both nVidia and AMD have pledged support to release linux optimized drivers for their video cards, these drivers will specifically target improved gaming performance in Linux kernel used by SteamOS. nVidia has also promised releasing SteamOS compatible version of GameWorks (Software Development kit designed to make most use out of nVidia GPUs).
- 3) Valve has recently released a free software tool “ToGL” for game developers to translate DirectX based Windows/Xbox games to OpenGL based SteamOS. As of now this tool is restricted to translating older version of DirectX games, but I am sure Valve will make improvements to this free tool to include translating newer DirectX games to OpenGL API used by SteamOS. In short, this will enable easier porting of games between Windows and SteamOS and will allow more game developers to develop games for SteamOS.
- 4) Valve has confirmed – many game developers are actively developing games for SteamOS, including few mainstream AAA games. Crytek has added SteamOS support for CryEngine, a very popular game engine known for enabling photo-realistic visuals in games.
To summarize – SteamOS costs nothing, gaming hardware manufacturers have pledged support, there are free tools available for developers to port older Windows games to SteamOS & most importantly – Game Developers have pledged support to make latest games available on SteamOS.
Now let’s look at reasons to stay with Windows for gaming on the next page ..