Valve announces Linux-based Steam OS

Valve has announced the Steam operating system, a Linux-based OS "designed for the TV and living room" that will merge the company's Steam game distribution service with any computer for free.

In a post on its website, Valve says SteamOS "combines the rock-solid architecture of Linux with a gaming experience built for the big screen." The game developer claims its new operating system provides "significant performance increases in graphics processing," which it claims game developers are already taking advantage of for their upcoming titles.

Gaming won't be the only capability of SteamOS, however, as the company is positioning the operating system as a multimedia mainstay, including support for "media services you know and love," though no deals have been announced yet. Game streaming will also be available, allowing users to play their Windows or Mac games from a SteamOS computer.

SteamOS will likely have a similar interface to Valve's "Big Picture Mode" for the Steam game distribution platform, which allows users to use their computers on televisions by reformatting interface elements. Valve curated a number of controller-friendly games – the most playable from a couch – and sold them at a discount when Big Picture Mode was officially released.

Valve says the operating system will be available for download "soon" for free, though no specific release date was provided.

Two additional Valve announcements are scheduled for this week, with one likely being the company's "Steam Box" initiative that will see it partner with hardware manufacturers for low-cost living room PCs. Valve previously said it would allow partners to use either a Linux or Windows operating system for the computers, though it's been critical of Microsoft's latest operating system in the past year. Valve stated three tiers of Steam computers would be available, with the lowest tier costing $99, a middle tier costing about $300, and a final tier being a high-end machine.

Computers in the lowest tier Steam Box would primarily feature steaming-capable equipment, such as integrated graphics cards, while the middle tier would likely include dedicated graphics cards and processors. The two lowest tiers would lack optical media drives, though the "best" tier would include whatever hardware partners wanted to add.

Valve co-founder Gabe Newell famously called Windows 8 "this giant sadness" and a "catastrophe" that would make users "rage quit gaming." Newell, a former Microsoft employee, has repeatedly stated that the operating system's new interface isn't intuitive and marks a step backward from Microsoft's previous Windows versions.

Despite Newell's distaste for Microsoft's most recent operating system, Windows 8 recently became the second most popular OS on Steam, behind Windows 7.

Source: Valve | Image via Valve

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jordanspringer said,
How is Steam OS going to play the thousands of games designed for Windows?

Click on the link and read about it.

"You can play all your Windows and Mac games on your SteamOS machine, too. Just turn on your existing computer and run Steam as you always have - then your SteamOS machine can stream those games over your home network straight to your TV!"

HoochieMamma said,

Click on the link and read about it.

"You can play all your Windows and Mac games on your SteamOS machine, too. Just turn on your existing computer and run Steam as you always have - then your SteamOS machine can stream those games over your home network straight to your TV!"


It'd better be named "StreamOS".

This is pretty lame if you ask me. Windows works fine by itself on a TV. Even Steam Big Picture works fine. They don't need an 'operating system' aka 'TV UI' to stream games from Windows. Adding this box into the mix just creates another link for failure.

Also, what couldn't you run on SteamOS that you can't run on the Steam/Windows 8 (or 8.1) combo? Steam games have absolutely zero issue on Windows 8 or 8.1 today. You can connect a Windows PC to a big-screen TV via HDMI (old-school tech; it's been in Windows since XP) and since the *existing* Windows Steam client also supports Big Picture, what do you really lose running Steam on Windows? If anything, you'd be stepping backward by choosing SteamOS over even an HTPC running XP MCE and Steam - let alone any version of Windows later than XP MCE. Who is Gabe Newell kidding?

I wish them the best of luck, too long has Microsoft had a monopoly on PC gaming. Hopefully a bit of healthy competition will force Microsoft to make more of an effort on making their stuff better. And I really hope they replace X with Wayland or Mir, that should make driver manufacturers actually make a proper effort on them.

So, I'm confused. Is this to replace Windows, or is it meant to be a type of media centre thing. I don't see where this fits in the scheme of things. Maybe that will become clear with the other announcements.

On one hand, you've got an OS that nerds have talked up for year, but has gone no where (waits for a fanboy to correct me of the 3 odd % that Linux has made in 20 years). On the other hand, you've got a media centre, with not enough power to game.

No offence, but why would we buy a steam box if we can only play games from our other computer due to compatibility issues with linux. Can't we just use our original PC for that?

This is about an OS not a piece of specific hardware (although I am sure that will come in the next few days). Basically SteamOS is a Linux distro just like Ubuntu or Debian however it will be built by Valve who are working very closely with Nvidia, AMD and Intel as well as other hardware manufactures to improve the quality of their drivers for what will most likely be a common hardware platform.

This means if you have supported hardware you can get SteamOS from Valve and install it on the computer you already have and enjoy the benefits it will (hopefully) bring.

Also note that you are not limited to just using games sold by Valve via Steam. You can install any software you want just like on any other Linux distro. That is something Valve have made quite clear. They want to be the main source of games and apps but not the only source.

This also means it will give companies such as Dell and HP a common hardware target to design their machines too and we may even see something similar to the Windows Experience Index (which interestingly has just been removed from Windows 8.1).

Imagine you buy a machine from Dell. You can make sure it is SteamOS compatible so that you can be sure that you will get a great experience. This is something that you can do with Windows at the moment but not with Linux and that is what Valve are trying to change.

Steam works in Windows 8.
Steam sells games and other apps that work fine in Windows 8.
What does Windows 8 have that would make Valve worried?
A store that will eventually surpass Steam.

Mordkanin said,
As much as we all hate EA, they will refuse to touch it with a 30 foot pole that'll kill it.

Why? EA have already stopped offering their newest titles on Steam, and it's still going as strong as ever.

Shadow 024 said,
That's what he means. EA won't touch this SteamOS with their games.

Yeah. I had a typo, there, that left it fairly ambiguous. EA will do what they can to sabotage it, going as far as to break streaming in their games.

Who develops OpenGL/ES first?

I was under the impression T1 devs used Dx and then used some sort of tools to add Open GL/ES compat.

Unless they're porting from iOS to others....

I betting most will buy it and wipe it and install windows 7/8 on it.. assuming the video card can play more then indie title games. Like games with the frostbite 2 engine with zero lag

It's too early to write this off as DOA yet. Let's see which hardware OEMs and game developers Valve can win for SteamOS first.

They already have lot of indie devs. I think all the indie games i own on Steam are avalaible on Linux. I don't see the big models having any form of success but the Smart TV market is still wide open and the base model could eventually play a big role. You don't need a powerful PC to run indie games and the hardware could eventually be inside the TV and running Steam OS. Indie gaming is becoming bigger and bigger honestly there's lot of great indie games out there.

Mephistopheles said,
It's too early to write this off as DOA yet. Let's see which hardware OEMs and game developers Valve can win for SteamOS first.

Considering they are directly going up against Sony and Microsoft, which already have a lot of fights for titles, I don't see them walking away with anything but scraps or politically motivated projects.

Sony and Microsoft have too much cash and existing relationships with developers.

I really didn't expect this. I can't wait to see what comes of it, and whether it's finally the start of some change in the gaming industry, and of course the end of Microsofts dominance of the PC gaming market. Unlikely I guess, but who knows.

I'll be sure to try out SteamOS when it's released. What I'm hoping for is that because of Valve's push towards Linux-based gaming, that other publishers, especially EA, start releasing games for Linux.

I don't quite get the point of streaming a PC game to a TV in the living room if you still need a keyboard and mouse, as most PC games do...

I wouldn't say most. Most are designed for both the console and PC and will work on the PC with an Xbox controller. You can hookup up a wireless keyboard and mouse for the other ones.

Eh, yea, PC games are often strapped to dumbed down half-functional UIs and controls so the games can be played on consoles...

Lord Method Man said,
I think if gamers wanted a cheap console-like device instead of a PC they would buy, you know, a console.

Exactly, that's what I did. Except now they got me interested in PC gaming.

Spicoli said,
How do you define half functional? A game controller has more functions than a mouse. The keyboard just adds more buttons.

Has more functions? lol. Guess you havent seen the real MMO/RTS mice have you?

this its the year of linux, with android taking place in mobile and now steam OS taking the living room, its hard to microsoft to do something after the failure of windows 8, windows phone 8 and the future projects that looks disappointing like xone and surface..... Windows 8.1 need serious changes unless they want to continue the decline of pc

Let me think about this 120+ million Win8 machines. Equals quite large audience to develop games for. But, according to you that is fail and should be ignored. But, a device (Linux based) that has 0 sells a of today and competes against two other giants (X1 and PS4) for the living is going to be runaway success. I will place my bets on other devices that game companies will spend resources developing for. Devices according to you are to be considered failures. Want to take a bet that the Windows Phone 8 (not Win8, WinPhone8) devices will sell more in a couple of days then this hardware box will do over it's lifetime.

The question is, how many of those 120 mill would be interested in expensive AAA titles? Even if Steam only sells a few million, that is still a direct market devs can target, versus the 90% of Windows users who would either not be interested or would pirate the game instead.

I predicted this a couple of weeks ago, and my feeling is that Valve won't be going at this half arsed, they will probably work with hardware manufacturers to get better drivers on the go. I hope this will actually provide some real initiative to Linux based gaming.

The only game I've tried so far (I haven't tried that many, though) that works good (I'm running Arch) is Dota 2. But to be fair, the GPU drivers aren't exactly on par with the Windows counterpart. Hopefully this might change that.

Javik said,
I predicted this a couple of weeks ago, and my feeling is that Valve won't be going at this half arsed, they will probably work with hardware manufacturers to get better drivers on the go. I hope this will actually provide some real initiative to Linux based gaming.

Totally agree!

I can't stand how negative people are on this site about technology. Neowin seems obsessed with wanting companies to fail rather than to look at anything with any hope whatsoever. It's rather saddening that these people are supposed to be "tech enthusiasts".

The year of Linux is upon us! 2014 is set for it!..... I think not, another failed business adventure asking people to gimp a PC with linux is a dumb idea. Windows does fine, has more compatibility with hardware and software and above all people know how to us it and feel safe on it.

You won't be seeing many game dev's even bothering with a linux client Windows will be supported first then maybe linux if enough interest, Windows is on most machines already more machines is more support.

I really can't see any linux only hit titles coming out anytime soon the shareholders would go nuts if this was suggested bad investment.

Vester said,
The year of Linux is upon us! 2014 is set for it!..... I think not, another failed business adventure asking people to gimp a PC with linux is a dumb idea. Windows does fine, has more compatibility with hardware and software and above all people know how to us it and feel safe on it.

(Citation Needed)

When Vista came out, hardware and software compatibility wasn't stellar with existing peripherals. It's much better now, and I think SteamOS (and Linux) has a better chance now at gaining market share than before.

Game streaming will also be available, allowing users to play their Windows or Mac games from a SteamOS computer.

I know that probably wasn't there when you read it since it's developing

Not many, but my suspicion is that Valve are going to write an OpenGL render for Steam, I would also imagine future versions of source might be written around OpenGL as well.

Lord Method Man said,
Oh yay OnLive all over again.
Except this time the "server" is actually beside you (well, in the same house/apartment, etc).

Tyler R. said,
It's very easy to remap DX calls into OpenGL.

With just pure framework calls and disregarding optimizations, this is partially true, but it also gives up quite a bit of functionality that OpenGL can only partially provide.

This becomes a bigger issue when using DX10/11 features that rely on an OS with a kernel level GPU scheduler, as this scheduling functionality has to be replicated in the game.

Next there is the performance differences, and DX11 has quite a bit of a lead, especially with the OS integration of the framework to the NT kernel and driver model.
(Despite Valve's claims of comparing an old DX9 title against a newly optimized OpenGL 4.x title on modern hardware where the drivers essentially emulate DX9.)

I may have totally misunderstood but I believe the idea is that you'd have a SteamBox running SteamOS in your living room attached to your TV. By itself it's just a streaming device like a Roku or something. The big deal is that you'll be able to stream Steam games from your PC/Mac/Linux desktop somewhere else in your house (over your WiFi) so that you can play it one your TV. So for example you could have a PC running Windows 8.1 with Steam installed in your bedroom and you could stream Crysis 3 from that machine to the SteamBox in your living room so you could play it on your living room TV sitting on your couch.

Yes, like the nVidia Shield does except it's not a portable device. Think of it as a cross between nVidia Shield and the recently announced Playstation Vita TV. It's a little streaming box that can stream games from a more powerful system. Vita TV streams games from a PS4 while this (and nVidia Shield) stream games from a PC/Max/Linux box running Steam.

As far as streaming games OnLive is the big name as well as Gaikai. Sony bought Gaikai and it using it for it's PlayStation products. The problem with these services in the past as been that they tried to do it over the internet where there is larger latency/bandwidth issues. This streaming of games is becoming a pretty big deal though now with nVidia doing it with Shield, Valve doing it with SteamBox, and Sony doing it with Vita TV. I suspect it works pretty well over a LAN (from your bedroom to your living room for example) but I'd expect issues to crop up if they try to do it over the internet.

So, I have to another machine on to play stream in the living room. Wait, can that streaming PC e still be used while it streaming or now does it become useless for everyone else that wants to use it?

Asmodai said,
I may have totally misunderstood but I believe the idea is that you'd have a SteamBox running SteamOS in your living room attached to your TV. By itself it's just a streaming device like a Roku or something. The big deal is that you'll be able to stream Steam games from your PC/Mac/Linux desktop somewhere else in your house (over your WiFi) so that you can play it one your TV. So for example you could have a PC running Windows 8.1 with Steam installed in your bedroom and you could stream Crysis 3 from that machine to the SteamBox in your living room so you could play it on your living room TV sitting on your couch.

There will be *native* games as well, the streaming is on top of that.

Why would you be working on Windows and then reboot into SteamOS just to play games when you can stay in Windows and do the exact same thing?

Mr_Self_Destruct said,
..dual boot for Steam fun!

You do realise that Steam alone does not equal fun lol There actually has to be games for it

Why would you be working on Windows and then reboot into SteamOS just to play games when you can stay in Linux and do the exact same thing?

recursive said,
Why would you be working on Windows and then reboot into SteamOS just to play games when you can stay in Linux and do the exact same thing?
Nice try, buddy, nice try.

SOOPRcow said,
Yeah, a free, open source, walled garden that you don't even have to use if you want to use Steam.

Linux isn't the walled garden. Steam is.

Wait... so you're implying that I'm stuck purchasing games from Steam? Despite the fact that I bought many through Amazon, GMG, and retail stores?

What a joke.

SOOPRcow said,
Yeah, a free, open source, walled garden that you don't even have to use if you want to use Steam.

Some Linux distro's are not open source or open at all. Steam itself is not open either. This SteamOS is looking like it's closed and proprietary, i very much doubt Valve will release the source code.

NoClipMode said,

Some Linux distro's are not open source or open at all. Steam itself is not open either. This SteamOS is looking like it's closed and proprietary, i very much doubt Valve will release the source code.

I'm pretty sure all Linux is open source. What is not guaranteed to be open source is proprietary applications which are not part of, and instead run on top of, the OS kernel. Either way, how is this any different then what people use today? Other then it's free.

ObiWanToby said,
Wonder if this will support keyboard and mouse

It's Linux, of course it will support a KB/Mouse. Valve are trying to branch out, not alienate their current gamers.

From the article

Valve said,
All the games you love

Hundreds of great games are already running natively on SteamOS. Watch for announcements in the coming weeks about all the AAA titles coming natively to SteamOS in 2014. Access the full Steam catalog of nearly 3000 games and desktop software titles via in-home streaming.

It's a step in the right direction though I feel. Microsoft, while hard at work on their console, feels almost completely absent from their presence on Windows PCs, in terms of real gaming titles. That's why I'm interested to see someone, anyone, explore possibilities of a new direction. Competition is a great thing after all.

Quite a bold statement.

I remember all the people (both here, elsewhere online and big businessman such as Steve Ballmer) saying how the iPhone would fail. How BluRay would fail. How the iPod would fail. How Android would fail.

We need to wait and see before anyone can really come to a conclusion about its future. If Valve are working closely with Nvidia, AMD and Intel to improve graphics drivers and by the sounds of it they are also working with sound card makers to improve audio performance then they could build a pretty awesome OS.

The potential is certainly there for this to be a game changer. With a solid set of libraries and supported hardware as a target for developers to develop against it makes things much more attractive. Not to mention the massive user base that Steam has.

Talk to any game dev about why they don't take the time to target Linux now and the answer isn't that the user base isn't there it is that developing for Linux is a nightmare with so many distros and non-standardised ways of doing things such as audio and hundreds of different versions of libraries. Anything Valve can do to make life easier for the developer will be welcome. They have already shown that getting AAA games working on Linux is possible even when they were not developed with that in mind.

Whatever happens this is a great thing for the both the Linux and games industry and it should result in better drivers and better performance in the future.

InTheSwiss said,
Quite a bold statement.

Not really. Who's this targeting? Console gamers? Good luck breaking into that market, between the X1 and PS4 it's going to be a little tough. The PC market? What's the point when they can already stream games to their TV (if not just plug it in directly), never mind picking between "handful of games" or "every PC game ever made?" I'm sure it'll be pretty slick, but at best it's going to be a niche market.. Steam isn't the only PC publisher out there, I don't know about you but personally I like having access to everything.

Max Norris said,

Not really. Who's this targeting? Console gamers? Good luck breaking into that market, between the X1 and PS4 it's going to be a little tough. The PC market? What's the point when they can already stream games to their TV (if not just plug it in directly), never mind picking between "handful of games" or "every PC game ever made?" I'm sure it'll be pretty slick, but at best it's going to be a niche market.. Steam isn't the only PC publisher out there, I don't know about you but personally I like having access to everything.

I still feel it is a bold statement to claim something will fail before we know anything other than the very basics about it. Things can change in ways people do not expect too. Ten years ago if you had said that Apple would be a top player in the phone market nobody would have believed you. If you had said that a Linux based OS would power the majority of phones nobody would have believed you. Fifteen years ago if you had said Microsoft would be pretty much joint first place with Sony in the home games console market nobody would have believed you.

Sometimes what you don't expect to succeed does exactly that. What people say about Windows now is what people said about BlackBerry back before the iPhone and Android and now look at BB.

deadonthefloor said,
Someone told Henry Ford the same thing.

There was only one other company mass producing cars at the time, never mind there was a big void needing filled. What demand, need or market is this filling?

InTheSwiss said,

I still feel it is a bold statement to claim something will fail before we know anything other than the very basics about it.

This is Neowin, if it isn't made by Microsoft, the armchair commentators will tell you it will fail.

Javik said,

This is Neowin, if it isn't made by Microsoft, the armchair commentators will tell you it will fail.

Yeah true. A bit frustrating as it means having any kind of open discussion isn't really possible

Max Norris said,

Not really. Who's this targeting? Console gamers? Good luck breaking into that market, between the X1 and PS4 it's going to be a little tough.

I know plenty of console gamers that would love to jump onto the PC but just don't want either the expense or the technical fiddling. The Steam box targets both of those needs and we're all well aware of how cheap Steam games are (Gotta love them bundles).

Max Norris said,
The PC market? What's the point when they can already stream games to their TV

Can they? really? Can you explain how, because I'd love for this to be possible but it's really not, not unless you use wireless HDMI or some such - overly complicated and expensive.

Max Norris said,
never mind picking between "handful of games" or "every PC game ever made?"

Why not both? They've stated that there's AAA titles coming to it next year, so the latest titles will be on it. Quite a lot of titles are already on Linux/Steam and with the streaming option, you can have your entire catalogue on your TV and still keep that unruly gaming machine in the office or whatever. It really is the best of both worlds.

Max Norris said,
I'm sure it'll be pretty slick, but at best it's going to be a niche market.. Steam isn't the only PC publisher out there, I don't know about you but personally I like having access to everything.

This is about getting PC games into the living room. Steam is being used as the platform for that and if it takes off, other publishers will follow suit. I don't disagree that it will be somewhat niche, but I don't think it'll be as niche as you think it is. It's no more niche than say the Chromecast and that little device is flying off of shelves.

Kushan said,
I know plenty of console gamers that would love to jump onto the PC but just don't want either the expense or the technical fiddling. The Steam box targets both of those needs and we're all well aware of how cheap Steam games are (Gotta love them bundles).

It only typically involves 'technical fiddling' if you're building/upgrading yourself. If you're buying from the store, you plug it in and go. How hard is that? And if that's still too hard, they'll most likely buy a console.

Kushan said,
Can they? really? Can you explain how, because I'd love for this to be possible but it's really not, not unless you use wireless HDMI or some such - overly complicated and expensive.

Plug it into any streaming device or just plug your system straight into the TV if you have anything remotely current. Not overly complicated or expensive.

Kushan said,
Why not both?

Because it won't be both. You're still stuck with what's in Steam's catalog, and you're again stuck with what runs on Linux. There are thousands of games that don't meet either requirement.

Kushan said,
They've stated that there's AAA titles coming to it next year, so the latest titles will be on it.

If it's Linux compatible, and again, if it's sold through steam. There's quite a lot of games that don't meet either requirement. That aside, I'm more curious in a real list versus a general press release thanks, they tend to say lots of things. They also said Windows 8 would be the death of PC gaming. They also said Steam on Linux would be the death of Windows. Steam's own hardware survey proves otherwise.

Kushan said,
I don't disagree that it will be somewhat niche, but I don't think it'll be as niche as you think it is. It's no more niche than say the Chromecast and that little device is flying off of shelves.

Which brings me to my biggest problem.. what's the point? It's not taking on consoles, and it's essentially just a PC that doesn't run everything. What is it providing that people can't already do now but better?

Edited by Max Norris, Sep 23 2013, 8:34pm :

wingliston said,
No demand for it. Will fail.

Even if it does completely fail there will always be a tiny minority of lonely, delusional fanboys claiming it was a roaring/raving success just like they did when that "giant sadness" tanked at retail.

Max Norris said,
Or completely disregard common sense just because they refuse to believe otherwise.

It's not common sense. Valve are the biggest PC gaming titles maker in the world, they have far more influence over PC gaming than people might realise. Besides, 10 years ago people like you were saying Steam would fail and look how that ended up

Of course there aren't many games that run on Linux *yet*, Valve are the first games company to really try pushing for it, but the games industry will be watching this, on that you can be assured.

I run Ubuntu and xbmc on my TV. SteamOS would be perfect for this setup and if I can migrate over I definitely will, it would complement my consoles. I am not a PC gamer but this would make me one, and if they can get new revenue streams from others who are traditionally console gamers, it will be a huge success.

I hope they will have hardware recommendations because since it's not a gaming rig I only have integrated graphics and am not sure which video card I should get. Since it's in the living room, a silent solution would be best.

Edited by Geezy, Sep 23 2013, 10:01pm :

From what I can tell everyone is just getting their information from that one page so don't think we'll know what it's based on or any other details until they issue an official statement on it. I've never delved that much into Linux so I'll wait and see what everyone else's opinions of the distro are

I would guess none. Linux provides the kernel to drive the hardware and then they'll probably build a proprietary UI on top of it using some GNU software. I'm not sure if they'd use X or something more designed for gaming.

Hope its Debian, SteamOS would be the Media Center Edition of the distro. Seems this was the plan all along. More choice, more competition, we win!

Spicoli said,
I would guess none. Linux provides the kernel to drive the hardware and then they'll probably build a proprietary UI on top of it using some GNU software. I'm not sure if they'd use X or something more designed for gaming.

Eh? Not sure if they'd use X? Seeing as the linux steam games require X I would think so...

It says on the page that it'll be completely customisable. That to me says it'll be a customised linux distro that basically boots directly into Big Picture. It could be based on any popular linux brand but I'm betting it'll be a bit like Android whereby people will be able to tweak and make their own versions.

If the steam box is a capable machine and someone releases a version of SteamOS that contains XBMC, then it's going to be hot as ****.

n_K said,

Eh? Not sure if they'd use X? Seeing as the linux steam games require X I would think so...

You'd need to bypass X and go to the graphics hardware to get full performance. X was designed for network display and not performance. You really wouldn't need it for a pure game console display.

Whatever it's based on, you can bet it will be one of the best supported distros out there. Users go where the games go and devs go where the users go. Debian will never lose support but there are probably a lot of casual users and dabblers who would drop Ubuntu and Fedora and flock to this.

As for the whole x thing, there's Wayland and Canonical is working on Mir.

Edited by Geezy, Sep 23 2013, 10:29pm :

Yes, now we know where GabeN's hypocrisy and Windows 8 bashing comes into play, he's just LTTP.
I'm curious to see what it brings and will check it out, but my recent experience with other Linux ditributions doesn't make me give it a warm heart just yet and there's still a LOT of things that need to change before Linux ever becomes a worthy opponent to Windows for gaming IMHO.

Windows didn't turn into a gaming platform overnight either. It all just happened way too long ago for anyone to remember. Linux may not be perfect (mostly due to poor driver support), but it will get there very fast since most game engines are multi-platform nowdays, so porting a game to Linux won't be a big deal.

Valve has enough muscle to push the hardware devs like NVIDIA and AMD to improve their drivers, and they already have improved them somewhat. Intel has an open source driver that both Valve and Intel contribute to, so it's looking pretty good so far.

Maybe 2014 will finally be the year of the Linux desktop?