Alienware launching its Steam Machine with Windows 8.1 this year for $549 [Update]

Valve recently decided to delay its Steam Machine platform until 2015, but that's not stopping hardware partner Alienware from moving ahead with a Windows 8.1 version of its console.

Instead of waiting until next year to launch its console, called Alpha, Alienware is working with Valve to create a custom Windows 8.1 interface that will integrate with Steam's Big Picture mode. In an interview with PCWorld, Frank Azor, general manager of Alienware, said Valve helped modify Big Picture mode so it fits with the console's glowing lights and other design elements. Azor added that the console will support SteamOS when it launches next year.

"We can build our custom [console UI] interface over Windows, but we don't know what Windows 9's going to be," he said. "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."

Until SteamOS launches, Alienware will sell the Alpha with an Xbox 360 controller instead of Valve's custom Steam controller, with costs beginning at $549. At that price, the Alpha will feature the following specifications:

  • Intel Core i3 Haswell processor
  • Custom Nvidia Maxwell-based GPU (2GB dedicated GDDR5 memory)
  • 500GB SATA 3 HDD
  • 4GB of 1600MHz memory
  • Dual-band Wireless-AC 1x1 with Bluetooth 4.0
  • HDMI-out, HDMI-in (with pass-through), Gigabit Ethernet, optical audio out, two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports

Consumers will be able to customize the console to feature Intel's faster Core i5 and i7 processors, 8GB of RAM, and 1TB or 2TB hard drives. Despite previous statements that the console isn't designed to be upgraded, Azor said users can upgrade almost everything except for the custom graphics card, though it won't be as easy to upgrade as Alienware's other systems.

Alienware's decision to use Windows comes after Valve co-founder Gabe Newell called Windows 8 a "catastrophe" and said it would make users "rage quit computing." Despite his disdain for the operating system, however, Steam users made Windows 8 the second most-used OS on the gaming platform in August 2013, less than a year after its release.

Update: Alienware has launched an official website for the Alpha, saying it will launch the console this holiday season. 

Source: PCWorldGeekWire | Image via Alienware

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The 360 controller is a good choice its a solid controller i find. Also no SteamOS is a very good move. I am hoping they forget about SteamOS and Wright it off as a stupid bad idea.

I can't see many big games developers wanting to make linux ports of there games for the select few. It's better for there business to just support Windows, Xbox, PSOne. No need to support an underused inferior OS that most users wont be comfortable using or want to use.

FYI, any game that runs on Windows will run without much if any modification on PS4/Xbox one, as both now use x86 arch that PCs have for decades. In fact, ubisoft was found to be botching watch dogs for the PC so the PS4/xbox one versions would look better. look up watch dogs E3 mod... The 360 controller was an obvious choice, its cheap and well supported, and the steamOS was a pipe dream to begin with, it'd take decades to become 'better' than windows. Google can barely run android on their hardware revisions but steam somehow thought they would be able to optimize everyones computers to preform better while sticking it to microsofts 25+year developed software.

Over time steam OS would be the best solution, or so the marketing talk claims.

People that do use their brains already know that the chance of that statement to actually become reality to be smaller then the chance of say Arsenal to become champions in the Spanish Primera division.

I wish they included an Xbox One pad with it instead of the 360's, now that the drivers are out. The XB1 pad has a better D pad.

Oh boy, I can't wait to downgrade to Steam OS next year and lose the ability to play 90% of my games!

Why are they even releasing this now if that OS and the controller isn't ready yet?

Edited by LightEco, Jun 10 2014, 8:22pm :

LightEco said,
Oh boy, I can't wait to downgrade to Steam OS next year and lose the ability to play 90% of my games!

Why are they even releasing this now if that OS and the controller isn't ready yet?

My thoughts exactly ! Although in my case it is actually close to 99% of my games..

So... MORE expensive than an Xbox One WITH Kinect and a BlueRay drive, eh?

Yeah, no way I'm even thinking of buying this. I can't imagine why anyone would, to be honest.

If your main concern is games, you'd just keep playing on your gaming PC.

I still have no idea what the market is for this thing. Someone who doesn't have a PS3/4, Xbox 360/One or a PC capable of playing games, who suddenly wants to be a gamer, and has a lot of money?

Huh?

Why can't someone who already has another console also have one of these? There are plenty of PC exclusives they'll be missing out on.

Seems like it is more custom than we could come to expect from Alienware. Custom chip actually soldered to the motherboard, so more akin to a console than the X51 and its full size card.

Very interesting offering. I am keen to see what controller they are pairing with it.

> "We can build our custom [console UI] interface over Windows, but we don't know what Windows 9's going to be,"
Guess what? These custom UI ###### up the OS and nobody wants them. So stop ###### the OS and ship the vanilla OS. If you need, create your own metro app that provides whatever UI you want.

> he said. "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."
top lel.

Depending on the actual GPU, this is either majorly overpriced or actually not bad. Though I'm honestly surprised this isn't priced higher, being Alienware and all.
Building your own is still a better deal though.

Astra.Xtreme said,
Depending on the actual GPU, this is either majorly overpriced or actually not bad. Though

I was thinking the same thing. I'll wait to see benchmarks, but the price is surprisingly decent at first glance. If they offer a version for less without the 360 controller, it may even be a good deal.

Studio384 said,
What's wrong with the Modern UI? It's a great interface for controllers.

The problem is that Valve doesn't own it.

If the modern UI became the interface to all your Steam content then there's nothing to stop other companies from creeping in their content.

All the other excuses are just chest-beating.

Edited by DonC, Jun 10 2014, 7:51pm : got steam and valve confused

Both companies almost seem like they have no idea what they're talking about.
First Gabe Newell hates Windows 8, now he's working with Alienware for a custom Steam interface for it.
And neither company knows you can just replace Explorer with your own shell?

Eric said,
And neither company knows you can just replace Explorer with your own shell?

Shhh, it's been a secret for only ~20 years. Why ruin a good rant? More like just bashing and cashing in on the negative hype train to self-promote.

We can build our custom [console UI] interface over Windows, but we don't know what Windows 9's going to be," he said. "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.

Couldn't have said it better myself. Plus SteamOS has a custom compositor that creates a seamless experience. You'll never get that in Windows because it's closed source and Microsoft controls it. And who knows if Microsoft will at some point ban all non-store apps. That uncertainty drove Valve to create SteamOS in the first place.

I'm loving the fact that every game title that targets SteamOS will automatically support all Linux distros. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that Linux would become a primary gaming platform that rivalled Windows. Thank you Valve :)

simplezz said,
And who knows if Microsoft will at some point ban all non-store apps. That uncertainty drove Valve to create SteamOS in the first place.

Ahh the "Windows not running Windows software" speech never gets old. FUD at its finest.

simplezz said,
Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that Linux would become a primary gaming platform that rivalled Windows. Thank you Valve :)

Windows titles - 12851
OSX titles - 3081
*Nix titles - 1358

Kind of speaks for itself.

Ah, the Linux hype. Here you go: there are only 11% of the titles on Linux that are on Windows, 95.5% of Steam users run Windows, 25% of Steam users run Windows 8/8.1, only 1.1% of Steam users run Linux.

SteamOS, Steam Boxes, and the Steam controller were announced in September 2013. It's now June 2014. And the controller is delayed until 2015.

Gabe screwed the pooch. Overpromised, underdelivered, and SteamOS and its accompanying Steam Boxes WILL NOT SELL.

>Couldn't have said it better myself. Plus SteamOS has a custom compositor that creates a seamless experience. You'll never get that in Windows because it's closed source and Microsoft controls it.

So steam desktop/big picture is not seamless? You can't create your own UI on windows desktop or whatever app UI you want in a metro app?


>And who knows if Microsoft will at some point ban all non-store apps. That uncertainty drove Valve to create SteamOS in the first place.

Spread more FUD please.

> I'm loving the fact that every game title that targets SteamOS will automatically support all Linux distros. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that Linux would become a primary gaming platform that rivalled Windows. Thank you Valve :)

Yeah, much rival. so primary. wow. 1%.

Max Norris said,

Ahh the "Windows not running Windows software" speech never gets old. FUD at its finest.


Windows titles - 12851
OSX titles - 3081
*Nix titles - 1358

Kind of speaks for itself.

Have you ever thought about this tho.

Say the regular gaming folks who use steam buy the box with SteamOS (which is nix based right?) and whenever they want to do anything else apt-get? :D Oh this will drive some major traffic to forums like these.

"Help, help, how can I install a browser" haha.

Crimson Rain said,
>Couldn't have said it better myself. Plus SteamOS has a custom compositor that creates a seamless experience. You'll never get that in Windows because it's closed source and Microsoft controls it.

So steam desktop/big picture is not seamless? You can't create your own UI on windows desktop or whatever app UI you want in a metro app?


>And who knows if Microsoft will at some point ban all non-store apps. That uncertainty drove Valve to create SteamOS in the first place.

Spread more FUD please.

> I'm loving the fact that every game title that targets SteamOS will automatically support all Linux distros. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that Linux would become a primary gaming platform that rivalled Windows. Thank you Valve :)

Yeah, much rival. so primary. wow. 1%.


Better yet, if Valve wants to, they can deliver a Windows with its own GUI completely replacing explorer.

So that the user wouldnt even know Windows 8 was behind it and could still play all the games Windows has to offer.

simplezz said,

Couldn't have said it better myself. Plus SteamOS has a custom compositor that creates a seamless experience. You'll never get that in Windows because it's closed source and Microsoft controls it. And who knows if Microsoft will at some point ban all non-store apps. That uncertainty drove Valve to create SteamOS in the first place.

I'm loving the fact that every game title that targets SteamOS will automatically support all Linux distros. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that Linux would become a primary gaming platform that rivalled Windows. Thank you Valve :)

Of course except for steam os which is merely a dumbed down version of Debian, all the stuff steam adds to it is (drumroll) closed source !

There is no chance in hell Microsoft is ever going to disallow Windows Applications on Windows. It would mean the end of that os.

The reason our ex Microsoftie Newell is anti Windows 8 has nothing to do with this silly fear, but more to do with increased competition that might arise from the Windows store. His customers do not seem to agree judging from the steam hardware survey.

Finally, Linux as a gaming platform is not rivaling Windows, it isn't even on par with OSX, and the chance it will ever even approach Windows on PC is next to zero.

What a bunch of negative nancy's. Bitch about Linux not having the amount of users Windows has, yet also bitch about any attempt to push its use beyond what it is currently.

Last time I checked, we were supposed to be tech enthusiasts...

dead.cell said,
Last time I checked, we were supposed to be tech enthusiasts...

There's a difference between a tech enthusiast and spreading FUD and misinformation in the name of an agenda.

dead.cell said,
What a bunch of negative nancy's. Bitch about Linux not having the amount of users Windows has, yet also bitch about any attempt to push its use beyond what it is currently.

Last time I checked, we were supposed to be tech enthusiasts...


Nobody bitches about some company pushing Linux. But first spreading FUD about Windows to get more wind in the sail of pushing Linux, is disgusting.

dead.cell said,
What a bunch of negative nancy's. Bitch about Linux not having the amount of users Windows has, yet also bitch about any attempt to push its use beyond what it is currently.
Last time I checked, we were supposed to be tech enthusiasts...

Unfortunately when it comes to this site, most of the so called enthusiasts are only enthusiastic about Microsoft related products. As soon as something becomes a credible threat to the Microsoft Windows/Xbox platforms, it must be disparaged and vilified as much as possible. That seems to be the mantra these days :(

simplezz said,
As soon as something becomes a credible threat to the Microsoft Windows/Xbox platforms, it must be disparaged and vilified as much as possible. That seems to be the mantra these days :(

Works both ways. Anything having to even remotely do with Microsoft stuff and there you are doing the exact same thing, actual facts be damned. Hypocrisy is a dangerous thing. Big difference between actually bashing Linux and pointing out blatant FUD and misinformation, which also seems to be a mantra around here.

simplezz said,

Unfortunately when it comes to this site, most of the so called enthusiasts are only enthusiastic about Microsoft related products. As soon as something becomes a credible threat to the Microsoft Windows/Xbox platforms, it must be disparaged and vilified as much as possible. That seems to be the mantra these days :(

I ran Linux over 20 years ago.

Back then it was hoped and expected it would become a credible threat to Windows on the desktop, which to date has not happened. The main reason is the reluctance of major software developers to develop commercial software that runs on Linux. Another reason the massive fragmentation. Anyone that has run GNU/Linux knows there are many distributions, each with their own ways of handling things (own repositories, no common services framework and own packages format, just to mention a few things). If you take the main three 'families', Debian, Red Hat and Suse, they all have their own way of doing things, which makes supporting products on GNU/Linux a nightmare.

Then you add the freeloaders mentality that seems to be prevailing in those circles, and it is no surprise it never took off.


Now Valve is trying pretty much the same thing, this time the OS is the same but hardware vastly varies, which is precisely the power of the consoles and the weakness of PC gaming. No software is so depending on hardware as games (most specifically triple A games, the games that bring in the crowds).

By letting people choose between various steam boxes, ranging from weak processors to the top of the line, and by allowing people to build their own steamboxes, they have lost a big advantage over the consoles (which are all identical, both in HW and SW).

Now that leaves Windows as being the top dog of PC gaming (or actually the only dog). Here application availability is the strong point. Why would any current PC gamer would go to steam o's ? Do you actually game yourself ?

Let's just mention a few games I would have to say goodbye to: Watch Dogs, GTA IV, MP3, LA Noire, Far Cry 3, Mafia II. The list is endless. Upcoming games I would like to play such as Far Cry 4 and GTAV are not being developed for SteamOS either. No users no market no chance.

It is downright ironical that the first steam box on the market is running Windows 8, a bigger disgrace for Newell wouldn't be possible !

D. FiB3R said,

It's a games console!
What's the difference and how is it relevant to the number of USB ports? Most of my USB ports are occupied by game controllers.

Maybe you should be taking advantage of the PS3 controller's bluetooth then. At least, that's what I intend to do when I get a receiver for my desktop.

Andre S. said,
What's the difference and how is it relevant to the number of USB ports? Most of my USB ports are occupied by game controllers.

I thought that would be quite obvious, games consoles don't usually have a need for a printers, speakers, keyboards, mice, desktop fans, coffee cup heaters, keyboard led lamps, and any number of other usb devices, therefore, they have not seen the need to include more than 4.

It has been designed for the living room, for next to, or under the TV, where you would want to look clean and tidy, and not having tons of wires hanging out of it.

Pretty sure you won't be using all those controllers at once, and that you will want to keep them out of sight most of the time.

If that is not your intended setup, then I'm sure a £5 usb hub will see you right.

elenarie said,

Its a freaking PC.

Which has been designed specifically to be a gaming console. That's why you will notice the manufacturer keep referring to it as such.

elenarie said,

Its a freaking PC.

Made to look and run like a console.

I'd rather buy an actual PC that isn't full of compromises.

Because Windows 9 will break Steam? That's never been the case, and also, who said owners of this have to upgrade their OS?

George P said,
Because Windows 9 will break Steam? That's never been the case, and also, who said owners of this have to upgrade their OS?

I'm pretty sure he meant the custom UI Alienware built...not steam.

SharpGreen said,

I'm pretty sure he meant the custom UI Alienware built...not steam.

Either way, I doubt it'll do anything to it. If all the UI is, is basically a full screen app of sorts like how Media Center is and so on, then it's not going to break anything odds are. Now if they felt like they had to code directly into the OS like what StarDock does with some of it's apps then maybe but I really doubt they did that.