Valve introducing SteamOS, possibly SteamBox as well

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Valve introducing SteamOS, possibly SteamBox as well

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Man, I've been waiting for this announcement for a long time. I was beginning to think that, maybe, Valve had decided to postpone or even given up on the idea.

But, nope. They are indeed serious. They're introducing a new OS based on Linux, but specially made for gaming. And it seems very likely that an announcement about a SteamBox PC will follow, soon. Probably an open specification, that any manufacturer can produce their own variant of. A bit like the 3DO, if anyone remembers that. A PC that can be easily used in the living room to play games, if that's what you want. Giving you a console-like experience.

But the key, here, is that you don't have to use it like a console. You can still use it as a computer, to do more productive tasks. Or, at least, that's the vibe I'm getting from this announcement. Where, unlike consoles, you can do almost anything you damn well please, as opposed to having a locked-down box where the manufacturers are in full control.

I'm really glad Valve is finally doing this. I'd like nothing more than to see Microsoft get the kick in the balls they so richly deserve, for abandoning - and even trying to kill off - PC gaming, in favor of the Xbox.

And let's not forget what MS has been doing with Windows 8 . . . trying to convert everyone to buying Windows software solely through the built-in Windows store, and turning PCs into dumb content-consuming appliances.
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Re: Valve introducing SteamOS, possibly SteamBox as well

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So, since I started this topic, Valve has released their Steam Machines.

We'll have to wait and see how this plays out. Right now, I'm guessing that Valve is releasing various spec Steam Machine prototypes, to get a feel for what people want. What players consider to be the minimum spec they'd be willing to settle for, and then try to figure out a way to make that spec affordable.

A $1,000 Steam Machine isn't going to be very popular, obviously. But if they can put together something a lot more powerful than a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One for around the same price, or not that much more (say $100-$200 more), it could succeed. Particularly if it takes the "headache" out of setting up the OS and games, and makes it pretty much as easy as just turning it on and selecting the game to play from a menu.

I expect Valve will release some kind of certification program, where hardware partners will actually make the machines so that Valve doesn't have to do it themselves. Again, like the old 3DO console. And there will probably be three tiers: 1) Low-end box for streaming games and other video content (TV, movies). 2) Mid-level for playing games at the same or better fidelity than the PS4 or XB1. 3) High-end for playing games at ultra-high fidelity, maybe even with 4K display support.


But I think it's AMD that's dropped the bigger bombs, recently. TrueAudio and Mantle.

TrueAudio is basically a case of a sound card being integrated into AMD's graphics cards. This approach makes a lot of sense. Every time you update your graphics card, you'll be upgrading the sound as well. And the two always go together, for gaming. TrueAudio is a big jump forward for sound quality in games, the biggest improvement since Creative Labs' X-Fi chip.

Mantle is a new graphics API meant to replace DirectX and OpenGL. AMD is saying that it will be an open specification and free for anyone to use, down the road. (Let's see if they stick to this promise, and if Nvidia and Intel eventually get on board with this.) But for now, it will only work on the latest AMD graphics cards. The idea is that Mantle will be way more efficient than either DirectX or OpenGL, allowing game developers to code "to the metal" like they can on consoles. With the end result being a massive performance improvement in PC games. A lot of the power is going to waste, because of the inefficiency of DirectX that's being used by the majority of games.


I think the most exciting part - for me, anyway - is again the idea that we can finally break free of the monopoly stranglehold that Microsoft and Windows have, on PC gaming. Imagine top-tier quality games running on SteamOS with Mantle support.

They'll blow Microsoft out of the water. MS will either have to compete, or give up on Windows ever being relevant again. At least, where gaming is concerned. And I think you can be pretty certain that, for a lot of people, games are pretty much the only reason they stick with Windows any more.
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Re: Valve introducing SteamOS, possibly SteamBox as well

Post by TronFAQ »

So a couple of new things have happened during the last few months . . .


Hardware partners working with Valve are showing off their Steam Machines. So far, three have been announced. But, honestly, I think the only one that will sell is the iBuyPower version at $500. The others are simply too expensive. For those prices ($1,000+) you may as well build your own PC.


The other interesting development, is that it looks like Microsoft has finally caved with the upcoming Windows 8.2 and is bringing back the Start Menu. Rumours have been circulating since 8.1 was released, but there weren't any credible news sources until now.

Windows 8.2 (which might end up as Windows 9?) is expected either some time later in 2014, or possibly early 2015. There was even some speculation it may already be released in January 2014, but I doubt it.

Of course, I still don't trust Microsoft regarding this. With 8.1 they were careful to say they were bringing back the Start "Button" and not "Menu". Even if the menu is coming back, it may not be the same as it was before.

Apparently, the reason why the menu is finally coming back is due to intense pressure from business customers. They don't want to relearn the Windows interface. As a side effect, anyone who hates Metro and the new Start Screen (like me) will also benefit.

Also, when Microsoft decided to discontinue production of Windows 7 recently, there was a huge uproar. Again, from the business community. So Microsoft reversed that decision, and 7 will continue to be offered for now.
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