Editorial

Valve needs to start small to have success with SteamOS and Steam Machines

Nearly two years ago, I wrote an editorial that was based on the rumors that were surrounding Valve at that time; those reports claimed the company behind great game titles like Half-Life, Portal and Left 4 Dead were working on plans for a "Steam Box". At that time, those stories claimed that Valve was chatting with hardware makers to develop a PC that would be small enough to connect to a living room TV, much like a game console, and would use Valve's Steam download service to deliver games. In that editorial I wrote, "It should be able to combine the best aspects of a PC (open system, upgradable hardware, more games and game innovation) with the advantages of a console (small form factor, playable on big screen, more easily affordable)."

In the fall of 2013, Valve revealed more information on their PC hardware plans, which are now being labeled as Steam Machines (I prefer the term Steam Box but that's just me). It has also shown off its prototype Steam Controller, with its touch pads replacing the typical analog sticks. The most interesting development is the fact that Valve is making SteamOS, its own operating system for running games based on a Linux variant.

Since then, Valve has launched the first public version of its SteamOS for anyone to install and try out on their own PC. It also shipped 300 Steam Machine and Steam Controller prototypes it created in-house to a select few beta testers. This past week at CES 2014, the company announced that 14 third party PC makers would release Steam Machines of their own sometime in 2014.

All in all, the announcements that have come out of Valve in the last few months have been something of a disappointment to me compared to my optimistic hopes in 2012. While the Steam Controller looks like it will be a cool and different way to play PC games in a living room setting, the third party Steam Machines, and especially the push for SteamOS, feels like Valve is a long way away from getting PCs to be a staple of the big screen compared to dedicated game consoles like the Xbox One and PS4.

Costs and features of Steam Machines

One of the big problems is the prices and hardware specs for Steam Machines that have been announced. While not all of the third party companies are willing to reveal just what will be inside their cases or what their costs will be like (most notably the Steam Machine coming from Dell's Alienware division), the range of prices so far are between $499 and $6,000 (Valve has not indicated if it has a minimal set of hardware specs for the third party product). In other words, the cheapest Steam Machine that we know of is the same price as the Xbox One and $100 more expensive than the PS4. Granted, you have access to many more games with Steam Machines under the Linux-based SteamOS, but none of them are the current bestsellers that the PS4 and Xbox One already offer and it's unlikely that games like the Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty or Battlefield series will support SteamOS.

Valve has also announced that Steam Machines will be able to stream Windows PC games from a local networked desktop or laptop, but we would imagine that kind of set up is less than ideal for gamers who don't want to experience lag issues. That's maybe why many of the third party Steam Machine makers have already announced that users can have the option to dual boot to a Windows OS on these products.  In other words, the best Steam Machines will have Windows already installed, which means that if these PCs turn out to be popular among consumers, the biggest beneficiary might not be Valve, but Microsoft. The folks in Redmond would love to see many new Windows desktop PCs sold in homes, especially now, and if a lot of Steam Machines are sold, that likely means more people are using their OS.

Steam Machines no different from small form factor PCs

Based on what we currently know about the Steam Machines that are coming out, they seem to offer nothing new, in terms of hardware and prices, than the many small form factor PCs that have already been out in the market, running Windows, for quite some time. Indeed, many of the Steam Machines announced at CES 2014 are simply boxes that have already been sold as Windows PCs, such as Falcon Northwest's Tiki model.

The ideal "Steam Machine" will be small PCs running the Windows client of Steam in Big Picture mode, with access to thousands of games, including many of the big releases that will also be ported to the Xbox One and PS4. Those PCs will also offer a way to access even more games that are not available on Steam, such as many titles from Electronic Arts (which has their own Origin service), the best selling games from Blizzard and the hit MOBA game League of Legends. Indeed, one of the biggest indie PC games of all time, Minecraft, is still offered as a simple download via an old fashioned web page and is not available on any games download service, including Steam.

All of this can be accomplished right now with the many small desktop PCs that are readily available. The fact that there has been little movement in this area of PC hardware shows that the public needs to be convinced that having such a system hooked up to their big screen living room television is a good idea, and so far Valve has not done anything to change this mindset.

Does Valve see Microsoft and Windows 8 as a threat?

So why is Steam pushing so hard for these third party Steam Machines and SteamOS when history tells us there's little interest in living room-based gaming PCs? In his very brief address during the Steam Machines CES 2014 press event, Valve co-founder Gabe Newell indicated that the PC ecosystem was an open one and the company wanted it to remain that way. That would seem to hint that Valve is concerned that Microsoft has moved towards a closed garden approach with the launch of Windows 8 in 2012 and its Windows Store, where Modern UI apps and games can be directly downloaded, much like the iOS App Store and Android's Google Play. That would also suggest that Valve sees such a system as a threat to Steam's online store.

There's one small problem with that scenario happening for PCs; there's no indication at all that Microsoft is going to move to a completely closed system where Windows would fully control the app download experience. Indeed, I strongly suspect that if Microsoft even hinted at such a move, there would be such an outcry among both software developers and consumers against that kind of system that the company would be forced to do a 180, much like it did with the Xbox One DRM and used games policies.

Valve will try to convince game developers to port their games to SteamOS later this week when it holds its Steam Dev Days conference in Seattle. This event is closed to the public and press, which means Valve will likely be revealing lots of development information to prospective game creators that it hopes won't be revealed on the Internet. We suspect that Valve will be trying to convince game developers that working with SteamOS is better for them than Windows because it is supposed to be an "open" platform.

What's interesting about this idea is that the current Steam download service itself is anything but open. That's actually one of the reasons why Steam now has over 65 million accounts and over 7 million concurrent users playing games every day. Valve chooses which games to publish on Steam and offers game developers an easy way to update their games automatically, much like the Windows Store does. It also makes it easy for consumers to purchase, download and update games and form communities around those titles in one place. In other words, Steam is a closed system.

Steam's massive success is due to the fact that Valve gained most of those 65 million users by working inside Microsoft's Windows ecosystem. It offers a Windows client to download and purchase games and the vast majority of titles on Steam are offered exclusively on Microsoft's operating systems, with just a small fraction available via Mac or Linux. In fact, it was recently revealed that Steam users who have either Windows 8 or 8.1 installed now take up just over 20 percent of all Steam users, despite repeated statements by Newell slamming Windows 8.

Yet, Newell and Valve now want to work outside Windows with SteamOS and the 14 third party Steam Machines and, based on their CES 204 announcement, they would be much better off releasing a Modern UI Steam client, which we think would be a massive hit on the Windows Store.

Did Valve already run into issues with a Steam Machine maker?

There's some evidence that Valve's approach for SteamOS and Steam Machines didn't work for a company that Valve actually worked with to create a prototype PC. At CES 2013, a PC maker named Xi3 announced that Valve had invested money in their company to help develop a "Steam Box" and Valve showed one of Xi3's prototype PISTON cases. The tiny enclosure seemed to be the perfect design for what Valve had in mind for its hardware. A couple of months later, Valve said it was no longer involved with Xi3 or their PISTON PC. In response, Xi3 said their computer was designed specially for Valve but that it would launch with a version of Windows. Xi3 did indeed launch the PISTON PC in November with Windows 7. It would appear on the surface that Xi3 didn't have much confidence in Valve's Linux-based SteamOS and would rather work within the much bigger, and more established Windows ecosystem.

Valve needs to step back and start small, like they did with Steam

Valve's SteamOS and third party Steam Machine announcements at CES 2014 last week offered little in the way of why anyone would want to break away from Microsoft's Windows platform to play games in the living room. There's no indication that PC developers will be switching over from Windows to SteamOS and Valve has said that it has no plans to offer its own Steam Machines for sale. In other words, Valve is going to let the many PC makers, and presumably the software developers who make games for SteamOS, take a lot of the risk up front.

There has been some Internet chatter that Valve has a long term plan for SteamOS and the third party Steam Machines. If that's indeed the case, Valve would be much better off by just offering one Steam Machine, either made in-house or created by one third party company under Valve's supervision, that has SteamOS installed. Valve started the Steam service in the same way 10 years ago; it only offered Half-Life 2 and Counter-Strike Source for purchase and download. It learned from the mistakes made by that small launch and now it has grown the service so that it has become the single biggest supplier of downloadable PC games.

This idea of flooding the market with tons of different third party Steam Machine models all at once, some of which will run Windows as well as SteamOS, is the exact opposite of how Valve handled its Steam launch. In my opinion, its new approach is doomed to fail and quite frankly it feels like Valve is desperate to get SteamOS and these outside Steam Machines sold as quickly as possible. Slow and steady moves generally win races over the long haul, but at the moment, Valve seems to be racing to get Steam Machines out the door and it could easily trip before the finish line is reached.

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Steam Dev Days are today and tomorrow, not "later this week".

Oh, and they don't choose what games to publish on Steam either, that's covered by Greenlight.

Chock full of inaccuracies? Check. Drowning in pro-Microsoft bias? Check.

Yup, it's a Callaham article. Maybe you should call out Notch again and get told where to shove it.

"Steam Machines no different from small form factor PCs"
This heading right here can't make for an argument, the components from the 8th gen consoles and prior are essentially small form factor PCs, especially since MS and Sony are using the x86 architecture. So it can run Windows too, that's great.

What this article fails to address is that PCs aside the consumer conscious ones who built gaming ready machines never began to address the market for small boxes near big TVs except for HTPCs. Valve is basically doing the work to collaborate with different vendors that use those PC components. Most of what we've seen is the steam machine prototype gradually being detailed more and more as time progresses, the marketing honestly has not even started.

The R9 270 is such a great card to bundle in, it certainly demolishes the Xbox One's graphical output. My take is that Valve should start first with the $499 SKU and let the focus be on that box so developers don't have to worry about the configurations too much, let them work on getting the most out of it. I realize it's not such a big problem adjusting for multiple configurations like it use to be but if they see the market has demand for even higher powered SKUs sure I can see them shipping a little later.

This strategy complements their Windows and OS X software, it doesn't take away from it. Just an area where Valve is more flexible. They will still support their other platforms.

Steam Box is for people who want a console experience and don't want to have to mess with a PC. All software, driver, and OS updates are curated by Valve and geared toward gaming performance. Some people also want a dedicated platform, if your PC gets a problem and you need to troubleshoot, your Steam Box still works.

The games will come in time. Developers who make games on Mac, PS4, and Android, will all be familiar with the way a unix-like OS with OpenGL works. Windows and Xbox are the odd ones out using DirectX. SteamOS has to be built first for the devs to target the platform, and is still in beta, but it's almost there. The games will come. Don't forget you are free to install Windows. Valve doesn't care as long as you use the Steam store.

As for the streaming, if it works as well as PS Vita, Wii U, and nVidia Shield, then lag won't be an issue.

This makes no logical sense because the SteamBox *IS* a PC. It just runs a different OS that by the way -- has no proper support mechanisms, no security history, etc. It is a version of Linux and as such, can be prone to "problems" just as much as a PC can. The only benefit is that the interactivity from a user into a SteamBox will likely be limited to just controller/remote input, but RAM can still go bad, a board can burn out, graphics card driver might crash, etc... all the things that can happen to a PC.

And people don't "mess with PCs" any more -- unless they are on Windows XP or something. Windows 8 OEM PCs are pretty simple and you don't "mess" with it at all.

It's different because they don't care about supporting the software environment for apps, just the games. All of the updates/drivers/interface is geared towards the games and tested with that in mind. You'll be more sure an update doesn't break the games because that's the primary purpose. If there's an issue that affects the games, they will focus on it right away. They are primarily paying attention to game performance, the games don't take a back seat.

Unless Valve pulls the Windows client completely (which would result in them losing almost all business), most gamers are going to stick with the Windows client, if for nothing else than the need to play popular games from Origin or Uplay or other services.

The price is another sticking point.

It is clear that Newell's nightmare of a Windows Store monopoly... isn't near realistic, and his response seems to be to make a monopoly of his own. Seems counter-intuitive.

Create a monopoly? He is trying to *maintain* his monopoly. Steam is already the biggest place I get games, own games, and play games. There are few exceptions like Battlefield, Mass Effect 3 (1 and 2 are on Steam), and Starcraft.

What will wind up being funny is Valve launches this OS and it gets hacked, and now they have to turn into a security company in order to maintain it.

Shyatic said,
Create a monopoly? He is trying to *maintain* his monopoly. Steam is already the biggest place I get games, own games, and play games. There are few exceptions like Battlefield, Mass Effect 3 (1 and 2 are on Steam), and Starcraft.

What will wind up being funny is Valve launches this OS and it gets hacked, and now they have to turn into a security company in order to maintain it.

I don't think you really understand how GNU/Linux works do you.

99% of the "OS" is maintained by upstream.

No, the KERNEL is maintained upstream. Additions to make it a specific fork (ie, SteamOS) are *not* maintained upstream, they are maintained at the fork. So this is why Ubuntu/Red Hat and other organizations provide enterprise support (at a high cost, by the way) for their OSes.

I don't think you know how Linux works. Just because it is open source doesn't mean that it will be highly maintained by default.

Shyatic said,
No, the KERNEL is maintained upstream. Additions to make it a specific fork (ie, SteamOS) are *not* maintained upstream, they are maintained at the fork. So this is why Ubuntu/Red Hat and other organizations provide enterprise support (at a high cost, by the way) for their OSes.

I don't think you know how Linux works. Just because it is open source doesn't mean that it will be highly maintained by default.

The only addition they've made is a customised compositor which ties into the Steam client itself, the rest of it is maintained upstream.

Also FYI, SteamOS - not targeted at enterprises surprisingly enough.

So yeah, I don't think you know how this works.

Athernar said,

The only addition they've made is a customised compositor which ties into the Steam client itself, the rest of it is maintained upstream.

Also FYI, SteamOS - not targeted at enterprises surprisingly enough.

So yeah, I don't think you know how this works.

Their customized "layer" still has network access as well as other features for streaming, etc... lots of security endpoints. Not saying that it will be insecure, but OS development is not Valve's forte, and when you buy a Steambox, people will expect support for it because they are buying it from an OEM. It will just be an interesting proposition is all, especially considering the cost of support from Ubuntu/Red Hat.

Shyatic said,
Their customized "layer" still has network access as well as other features for streaming, etc... lots of security endpoints. Not saying that it will be insecure, but OS development is not Valve's forte, and when you buy a Steambox, people will expect support for it because they are buying it from an OEM. It will just be an interesting proposition is all, especially considering the cost of support from Ubuntu/Red Hat.

Your original statement was that the "OS would get hacked and they'd have to become a security company".

I.e You were implying Valve would have to actively maintain an entire OS themselves.

I quite rightly pointed out that the vast majority of SteamOS is developed and maintained upstream and not by Valve. The exception being the custom compositor of course, but the burden of maintaining that is really no bigger than the one they currently have with maintaining the Steam client itself.

Athernar said,

Your original statement was that the "OS would get hacked and they'd have to become a security company".

I.e You were implying Valve would have to actively maintain an entire OS themselves.

I quite rightly pointed out that the vast majority of SteamOS is developed and maintained upstream and not by Valve. The exception being the custom compositor of course, but the burden of maintaining that is really no bigger than the one they currently have with maintaining the Steam client itself.


Valve forked Debian 7. That means that they have to, themselves, work in any revisions that are upstream into a product they now have to support -- a full OS. SteamOS won't get security updates or patches from Debian, they have to come from Valve and merged into their code.

Yes, Valve will have to maintain an OS themselves. They won't actively maintain the kernel, but they will have to manage the merges from upstream fixes into their own fork. That is managing an OS, as far as I'm concerned.

As for maintaining the app layer -- you're likely right, it won't be too complex. But honestly I don't see it getting a huge following to begin with, so they might follow the Apple model; security through obscurity.

Shyatic said,

Valve forked Debian 7. That means that they have to, themselves, work in any revisions that are upstream into a product they now have to support -- a full OS. SteamOS won't get security updates or patches from Debian, they have to come from Valve and merged into their code.

Yes, Valve will have to maintain an OS themselves. They won't actively maintain the kernel, but they will have to manage the merges from upstream fixes into their own fork. That is managing an OS, as far as I'm concerned.

As for maintaining the app layer -- you're likely right, it won't be too complex. But honestly I don't see it getting a huge following to begin with, so they might follow the Apple model; security through obscurity.

Uh, that's not maintaining - that's just keeping packages up to date. This notion of "maintenance" fits with your initial statement of Valve having to become a "security company".

Maintaining would be actively writing and patching code. Not merely, compiling packages from the latest upstream source with some patches. (also from upstream or elsewhere)

I don't get why it's so difficult for people to understand. Steam Machines aren't meant to be a great success right now. They are not supposed to become bigger then PC gaming and certainly not Xbox One or Playstation 4. They are a hedge and Valve is playing the long game. They are a hedge against Microsoft in the event that Metro/Modern or it's successors actually take off at some point. If Metro/Modern+ is really successful and Microsoft is able to phase out Desktop apps support while maintaining the restriction that Metro/Modern apps can be purchased only from the MS store then Windows becomes a "Walled Garden" just like the iPhone is now and Steam is dead. Sure it's not going to happen with Windows 8.x but again Valve is playing the long game and they can't bring up a whole competing platform over night but that's where Valve believes MS is TRYING to head. Steam Machines were envisioned as a counter point to where MS seemed to be going with Windows 8 before anyone knew 8 was going to fail as miserably (in terms of sales) as it has. If Windows 9 makes people fall in love with Metro/Modern++ apps and that makes it possible for Windows 10 to drop desktop support then instead of Steam being dead they'll move to Steam OS, by then hopefully they'd have a nice platform... you don't just create one over night. If Microsoft is never able to pull off the move to a "Walled Garden" then Valve never needs Steam Machines to become anything big. They'll just keep it on life support, just in case.

Asmodai said,
If Metro/Modern+ is really successful and Microsoft is able to phase out Desktop apps support ...

Never going to happen. A PC version of Windows that doesn't run Windows software? That'll go over like a lead brick. You still got people clinging to XP for God's sake... think people are going to ditch about 20 years worth of software too? If I wanted to lose the bajillion programs I have access to in a hurry I'll just buy a Mac and be done with it.

It's a hedge to thinking that Microsoft is going to totally screw up what they are doing. If Valve was a public company you'd be able to see the dumps of cash into this project, they are doing it to prep for their survival as a content provider, not as a gaming firm.

Max Norris said,

Never going to happen. A PC version of Windows that doesn't run Windows software? That'll go over like a lead brick. You still got people clinging to XP for God's sake... think people are going to ditch about 20 years worth of software too? If I wanted to lose the bajillion programs I have access to in a hurry I'll just buy a Mac and be done with it.

Never say never. Windows RT is already a PC version of Windows that doesn't run Windows software (depending on what you mean by PC). And sure it would go over like a lead brick now but again they're playing the long game. Lets say Windows 8 was a phenomenal success. (Valve didn't know how it was going to do when they started developing SteamOS/Steam Machines). Over the life of Windows 8 more and more people moved more and more apps to Metro/Modern. Then Windows 9 came out a few years later and the migration continued... by the time Windows 10 came out very few people even ran non-Metro/Modern "desktop" apps so MS drops support of it and while some people would be upset not enough to significantly effect sales (plus they can just stay on Windows 9 until they are ready to "upgrade" their desktop apps). 64bit Windows has completely dropped 16bit windows support for example in a similar phasing out of legacy tech.

Now granted this scenario looks far less likely now that Windows 8 hasn't sold particularly well but Windows 8 was enough to scare Valve into developing a Plan B and they'll likely keep it around "just in case" even if they never end up needing it. Again it's a hedge and they don't expect or need it to do great unless Microsoft attempts to close the platform, however unlikely that may be.

Asmodai said,
Never say never. Windows RT is already a PC version of Windows that doesn't run Windows software (depending on what you mean by PC).

PC means that machine that sits on your desk, the one that millions of users (commercial or home user) relies on daily. The people who have an incredible number of programs in use spanning almost two decades, not just grandma with her word processor and web browser but business users as well. I'm not talking phones or tablets. PC's. To claim that the executives at Microsoft suddenly dropped over 100 IQ points and decided to throw all of that away, cheesing off and stranding millions in the process is just insane. That's totally ignoring servers and services too.. is there going to be a Modern version of Apache or database servers?

That's not counting the fact that Microsoft is already backpedaling a bit on the whole Modern thing on the desktop to begin with. Not going to disappear, no, it actually has lots of uses depending on the scenario, but in what world is it a good idea to tell hundreds of millions of customers "sorry, time to buy something else" a good idea? Business 101, keep the customer happy. "Your hardware and software investment over the years is now obsolete" is not going to make people happy.

Asmodai said,
64bit Windows has completely dropped 16bit windows support for example in a similar phasing out of legacy tech.

So dropping ancient 16 bit support in the x64 build is a sign that the desktop is disappearing? (Ignoring the fact that you can just use the x86 version of the OS or any number of other options if you need something that old to run..) Well shoot, my PC doesn't have a parallel port on it anymore, I say that's a sign that PC's are going to disappear entirely and turn into tablets.

Max Norris said,

PC means that machine that sits on your desk, the one that millions of users (commercial or home user) relies on daily.

Machines that sit on your desk have been outsold by laptops for several years now. Recently smartphones have passed machines that sit on your desk in sales. Tablets are projected to outsell machines that sit on your desk this year. Many are calling this the "Post PC era" as a result. Machines that sit on your desk are not driving new development at Microsoft or pretty much anywhere else.
Max Norris said,
The people who have an incredible number of programs in use spanning almost two decades, not just grandma with her word processor and web browser but business users as well.

Yes and lets say MS released Windows 10 with no desktop support. Do you think they're going to go around and take away all the older versions of Windows? People who run legacy apps and grandma don't tend to keep up with the latest OS upgrades. There are tons of people running XP still today, do you think they care if Windows Vista or Windows 7 dropped support for their apps? No, because they aren't going to upgrade to them anyway. Most people don't ever upgrade their OS. They get whatever OS comes with the computer and keep it until they get their next computer. PC users are holding on to their PCs now longer than ever or their moving to mobile platforms as the decline of PC sales indicate.
Max Norris said,

I'm not talking phones or tablets. PC's. To claim that the executives at Microsoft suddenly dropped over 100 IQ points and decided to throw all of that away, cheesing off and stranding millions in the process is just insane. That's totally ignoring servers and services too.. is there going to be a Modern version of Apache or database servers?

Server Apps are different. Server apps typically run as services and require no GUI at all to function. A management GUI to be thrown on top to change settings and stuff (if you don't want to use the console) but that can absolutely be done in Metro/Modern. It can also be done via Command Line (PowerShell) so it can be used on Server Core installs of Windows that have no GUI at all. If every app you install on Windows has to come from the WIndows Store where MS gets a cut of the sale then that's a HUGE amount of $$$ going to MS and that makes one heck of an incentive if they can manage to pull it off.
Max Norris said,

That's not counting the fact that Microsoft is already backpedaling a bit on the whole Modern thing on the desktop to begin with. Not going to disappear, no, it actually has lots of uses depending on the scenario, but in what world is it a good idea to tell hundreds of millions of customers "sorry, time to buy something else" a good idea? Business 101, keep the customer happy. "Your hardware and software investment over the years is now obsolete" is not going to make people happy.

Yes and I noted that. MS is backpedaling because of how bad Windows 8 has sold. If Valve knew it was going to do so badly maybe they wouldn't have made Steam Machines but Steam OS and Steam Machine development began before Windows 8 flopped and MS is not backpedaling because they want to so whose to say they won't be able to better execute the deprecation of the Desktop in the future? Again it's just a hedge.
Max Norris said,

So dropping ancient 16 bit support in the x64 build is a sign that the desktop is disappearing?

No, that's not what I said at all. I was just using it as an example of how MS has in the past dropped support for applications people use, that were at one point the most widely used type of application, after newer technologies have come around. You made it seem like such a thing was impossible and MS would never do it but they have.

Asmodai said,
Machines that sit on your desk have been outsold by laptops for several years now. Recently smartphones have passed machines that sit on your desk in sales.

Ok, fine, laptops too. Which also sit at your desktop and run desktop OS's. That's quibbling over semantics though, you know exactly what I mean.

Asmodai said,
Tablets are projected to outsell machines that sit on your desk this year. Many are calling this the "Post PC era" as a result. Machines that sit on your desk are not driving new development at Microsoft or pretty much anywhere else.

No argument there, and in that case there's RT for the cheap end (Modern only) or the Pro's and similar, which shockingly still can run desktop software. People aren't buying PC's at as rapid a pace because they don't need to be replaced at such a quick pace, never mind they can just be upgraded, no new PC required. There's also the cost... hundreds to thousands for a full PC, or a couple hundred tops so I can browse the web and read my mail on the go? It's kind of a given, but certainly not the death of the desktop machine.

Asmodai said,
People who run legacy apps and grandma don't tend to keep up with the latest OS upgrades. There are tons of people running XP still today, do you think they care if Windows Vista or Windows 7 dropped support for their apps?

That sounds rather speculative, at best, especially considering XP's market share has been going down. Once that cutoff hits and they realize that "crap, no more updates", yea they're probably going to care if the new version of the OS actually runs their software.

Asmodai said,
Server Apps are different. Server apps typically run as services and require no GUI at all to function. A management GUI to be thrown on top to change settings and stuff (if you don't want to use the console) but that can absolutely be done in Metro/Modern.

Yes, that's exactly the point -- a lot of these services are third party, think they're all suddenly going to jump on the Windows Store bandwagon? The bigger problem is yes, they can be managed by an external application, modern, console or otherwise, but server services tend to not run as a user account. Baaaaad security. Store applications wouldn't work here, at all. There's also usability in general.. Modern is great for the "lightweight app" stuff. But there's just so much more that would be impractical (at best) in that sort of setup. Visual Studio in a Modern UI? Oh hell no. Great for the consumer stuff... professional software, not so much.

Asmodai said,
No, that's not what I said at all. I was just using it as an example of how MS has in the past dropped support for applications people use, that were at one point the most widely used type of application, after newer technologies have come around. You made it seem like such a thing was impossible and MS would never do it but they have.

Ah. Personally I wouldn't even remotely worry about it as the overwhelming majority of software is still x86 based. When they finally drop 32 bit support across the board, then I'd be a bit more leery about losing compatibility. That'll be a long time coming, again, backwards compatibility has always been Windows strong point.

Max Norris said,

Ok, fine, laptops too. Which also sit at your desktop and run desktop OS's. That's quibbling over semantics though, you know exactly what I mean.

Laptops and Tablets are merging. You seem to draw a very strict line between what is mobile and what is "PC" but that line is blurring and again the Steam Machine play is a hedge for the long game not for how things are at this moment.
Max Norris said,

No argument there, and in that case there's RT for the cheap end (Modern only) or the Pro's and similar, which shockingly still can run desktop software. People aren't buying PC's at as rapid a pace because they don't need to be replaced at such a quick pace, never mind they can just be upgraded, no new PC required. There's also the cost... hundreds to thousands for a full PC, or a couple hundred tops so I can browse the web and read my mail on the go? It's kind of a given, but certainly not the death of the desktop machine.

I didn't say the desktop machine was going to die. I just said it's not driving Microsoft future OS development because it's share is decreasing while what you call mobile is rising. MS doesn't want a mobile OS and a PC OS. They want to merge them and have one OS. It's very shortsighted of you to cling so strongly to the distinction. Soon 64bit ARM CPUs will start showing up in servers. No, they aren't going to destroy Intel but they'll probably sell well enough to continue being developed. MS will sell WIndows Servers for these systems (based off Windows RT... Windows on ARM) and they won't run desktop apps because they're ARM. Just like Microsoft used to sell Windows Server for MIPS and Alpha back in the day and they couldn't run normal "Desktop" apps either.
Max Norris said,

That sounds rather speculative, at best, especially considering XP's market share has been going down. Once that cutoff hits and they realize that "crap, no more updates", yea they're probably going to care if the new version of the OS actually runs their software.

I seriously doubt it. If they're still running XP now unless their hardware fails and they have to upgrade I'll be they'll be running WIndows XP at the end of the year... well past when support ends. Most people who run XP still probably won't even notice if updates stop. But yeah, that's speculative.
Max Norris said,

Yes, that's exactly the point -- a lot of these services are third party, think they're all suddenly going to jump on the Windows Store bandwagon? The bigger problem is yes, they can be managed by an external application, modern, console or otherwise, but server services tend to not run as a user account. Baaaaad security. Store applications wouldn't work here, at all. There's also usability in general.. Modern is great for the "lightweight app" stuff. But there's just so much more that would be impractical (at best) in that sort of setup. Visual Studio in a Modern UI? Oh hell no. Great for the consumer stuff... professional software, not so much.

Third Parties can put their server apps in the Windows Store, most of the apps in the Windows Store ARE third party. You'd buy and download SQL Server, Exchange, Oracle, Apache or whatever from the store. Once you install it you can set the account the service runs under just as you can today. The fact that you downloaded it from the Windows Store won't make a difference. Services won't be tied to your MS Store account, you'd just use the MS Store account to buy and download the product.

Max Norris said,

Ah. Personally I wouldn't even remotely worry about it as the overwhelming majority of software is still x86 based. When they finally drop 32 bit support across the board, then I'd be a bit more leery about losing compatibility. That'll be a long time coming, again, backwards compatibility has always been Windows strong point.

What you (or I) personally worry about and what Valve worries about concerning future products is VERY different. I'm not saying any of this matters to regular users. I'm trying to explain what Valves reasons are for SteamOS and Steam Machines.

Windows 1.0 came out in 1985, does Windows 8.1 still have the command line? Yep. Desktop will still be in Windows versions even when the interface changes again. Only the techies will use it occasionally but it will still be there.

Sadelwo said,
Windows 1.0 came out in 1985, does Windows 8.1 still have the command line? Yep. Desktop will still be in Windows versions even when the interface changes again. Only the techies will use it occasionally but it will still be there.

I hate to inform you but the vast majority of command line apps for Windows 1.0 will not run in Windows 2000/XP/+. Command Line apps for Windows 1.0 were DOS apps and Windows 2000, XP, and on are NT based which does not run on DOS. The Command Line in NT "Command Prompt" while similar, is not the same as DOS. Furthermore even the "Command Prompt" from the first versions of NT is deprecated at this point and the Command Line for Windows since Windows 7 and Server 2008R2 is now PowerShell, which is yet another completely different beast. I wouldn't be surprised at all if in the next version or two of Windows MS didn't drop the "Command Prompt" entirely and just have people use "PowerShell" if they want a command line.

Asmodai said,
Laptops and Tablets are merging.
Again, see my previous comment about "professional software" above. Some programs are just ill suited or frankly impossible to successfully pull off in the Modern UI. This is why 8's at the "sweet spot" now... the new stuff is an add-on, not a replacement. Nor has Microsoft ever said they were getting rid of the classic applications, the ones claiming that are more often than not fearmongering or have an agenda to push. (Not directed at you specifically, in general.) It's just like the people who claimed that WPF was the death of traditional forms based applications... that didn't happen either.

Asmodai said,
Third Parties can put their server apps in the Windows Store, most of the apps in the Windows Store ARE third party. You'd buy and download SQL Server, Exchange, Oracle, Apache or whatever from the store. Once you install it you can set the account the service runs under just as you can today. The fact that you downloaded it from the Windows Store won't make a difference. Services won't be tied to your MS Store account, you'd just use the MS Store account to buy and download the product.

The big difference being can and forced to. There's just so much third party software out there, nobody could reasonably expect that each and every one of them to be updated/rewritten for a new UI design and new distribution model, never mind the ones that come are distributed in a source code format to begin with, or the ones that run just fine on current OS's but can't be redone.

Asmodai said,
I wouldn't be surprised at all if in the next version or two of Windows MS didn't drop the "Command Prompt" entirely and just have people use "PowerShell" if they want a command line.

Again, backwards compatibility. I love PowerShell (even better than Bash IMO), but if you've done any sort of scripting for the old command interpreter, they're not going to work any more. There's zero reason to drop it (how would that benefit anyone?) and lots of reasons not to.

Max Norris said,
Again, see my previous comment about "professional software" above. Some programs are just ill suited or frankly impossible to successfully pull off in the Modern UI. This is why 8's at the "sweet spot" now... the new stuff is an add-on, not a replacement. Nor has Microsoft ever said they were getting rid of the classic applications, the ones claiming that are more often than not fearmongering or have an agenda to push. (Not directed at you specifically, in general.) It's just like the people who claimed that WPF was the death of traditional forms based applications... that didn't happen either.

Microsoft didn't create Metro/Modern to be for just "lightweight" apps. That's what it is used for mostly today because it's new and they are clearly the easiest things to write. What's a better example of "Professional Software" then the Office Suite. Well Microsoft plans to release a full Metro/Modern version of Office this year. Then they'll likely remove the desktop entirely from the next version of RT since it's really only there to run Office right now (because they didn't have time to write a Metro version of Office before RT launched). In Microsoft's ideal world everything would be written in Metro/Modern but they aren't stupid and they realize it's going to take time for both the API to mature and for people to migrate. Again, this is a long game play, it's not about how things are RIGHT NOW. If Windows 8 sold like hotcakes and Metro/Modern was embraced by the user base Visual Studio would have gone metro in a version or two. Now it's unlikely because the Windows 8 reception has been so bad but I'm sure that's still what MS WANTS. Along similar lines when Visual Studio 11 came out they tried to make it metro only forcing all future free development to be Metro instead of desktop based. They only relented because of intense outrage from the development community. Microsoft absolutely wants Metro to eventually replace all GUI apps but they know it isn't going to happen over night.

Max Norris said,

The big difference being can and forced to. There's just so much third party software out there, nobody could reasonably expect that each and every one of them to be updated/rewritten for a new UI design and new distribution model, never mind the ones that come are distributed in a source code format to begin with, or the ones that run just fine on current OS's but can't be redone.

Again MS isn't going to walk around and force everyone to upgrade to the new OS. If your apps runs just fine on Windows N but won't run on Windows N+1 then don't upgrade and your app will continue to work.
Max Norris said,

Again, backwards compatibility. I love PowerShell (even better than Bash IMO), but if you've done any sort of scripting for the old command interpreter, they're not going to work any more. There's zero reason to drop it (how would that benefit anyone?) and lots of reasons not to.

Microsoft USED to be about backwards compatibility but they aren't anymore. Take a look at this:

http://www.zdnet.com/microsoft...developer-trust-7000025142/

Microsoft has been breaking backwards compatibility right and left of late and developers are leaving in droves because of it. The old MS is dead, they aren't a software company anymore they're a devices and services company. Welcome to the new reality, times change.

Asmodai said,
What's a better example of "Professional Software" then the Office Suite. Well Microsoft plans to release a full Metro/Modern version of Office this year. Then they'll likely remove the desktop entirely from the next version of RT since it's really only there to run Office right now (because they didn't have time to write a Metro version of Office before RT launched).

Office isn't exactly professional.. it's a word processor and such. Think bigger. Programming tools. CAD/animation/modeling. Things of that nature. And yea, then the desktop may disappear... in RT. Not Windows itself.

Asmodai said,
If Windows 8 sold like hotcakes and Metro/Modern was embraced by the user base Visual Studio would have gone metro in a version or two.

No disrespect intended, but if you've actually used Visual Studio or another professional IDE in a production environment you'd understand why this is probably the worst idea ever. Just the sheer complexity of the thing, never mind the number of windows/panels (on multiple displays) with an absurd amount of information would make it an absolute nightmare to work with, and that's ignoring third party tools that hook into the thing with their own bits, the console tools, etc etc.

Asmodai said,
Again MS isn't going to walk around and force everyone to upgrade to the new OS.

Who in their right mind would when it's not going to run anything that they need it to? Making a version of Windows that doesn't run Windows software... going to see the stockholders lynch the executives as the company burns to the ground.

Asmodai said,
Microsoft USED to be about backwards compatibility but they aren't anymore. Take a look at this:
http://www.zdnet.com/microsoft...developer-trust-7000025142/

Nice read, but it's all speculation. It doesn't actually say anything. A few depreciated API's, yes, that happens, not even unique to Windows surprisingly. Doesn't say anything about the desktop disappearing though. It does mention about the next version of Windows actually making it more desktop friendly though...

Asmodai said,
The old MS is dead, they aren't a software company anymore they're a devices and services company. Welcome to the new reality, times change.

They could become an ice cream company too, but at the end of the day it's about the customers who aren't buying said products and services anymore, which is exactly what's going to happen if they did away with almost 2 decades of compatibility. OSX and Linux machines running Windows software better than Windows can? That's exactly what you're proposing. It makes absolutely zero financial or logical sense for them to do such a thing.

Max Norris said,

Office isn't exactly professional.. it's a word processor and such. Think bigger. Programming tools. CAD/animation/modeling. Things of that nature. And yea, then the desktop may disappear... in RT. Not Windows itself.

RT is Windows. It's Windows on ARM. Microsoft is moving to a single Windows Version. They aren't there yet but I don't know how many more times I can say it's a long game play.
Max Norris said,

No disrespect intended, but if you've actually used Visual Studio or another professional IDE in a production environment you'd understand why this is probably the worst idea ever. Just the sheer complexity of the thing, never mind the number of windows/panels (on multiple displays) with an absurd amount of information would make it an absolute nightmare to work with, and that's ignoring third party tools that hook into the thing with their own bits, the console tools, etc etc.

No disrespect but you have no idea what you're talking about. I AM a professional programmer. I've been in the industry for over a decade. I use Visual Studio at work EVERY DAY.
Max Norris said,

Who in their right mind would when it's not going to run anything that they need it to? Making a version of Windows that doesn't run Windows software... going to see the stockholders lynch the executives as the company burns to the ground.

Your shortsightedness is staggering. AGAIN it's a LONG GAME play. The idea is to PHASE OUT the desktop not just suddenly drop it. If Windows 8 came out and sold like hotcakes and Metro apps were embraced by consumers then by Windows 9 most apps most people use would probably have had Metro versions. That means when Windows 10 came out and dropped Desktop support it wouldn't be the case that it wouldn't run anything people needed it to. It would run the vast majority of software that most people used. Maybe it would take a little longer and be Windows 11 or 12 that dropped the desktop but that was what Valve and other fear was the plan.
Max Norris said,

Nice read, but it's all speculation. It doesn't actually say anything. A few depreciated API's, yes, that happens, not even unique to Windows surprisingly. Doesn't say anything about the desktop disappearing though. It does mention about the next version of Windows actually making it more desktop friendly though...

Are you seriously having this hard of a time following what I'm trying to say? I must be explaining this really poorly. Your claim was that MS was all about backwards compatibility. That link was intended to refute that because it's not true anymore, they break backwards compatibility all the time of late, but I didn't think you'd just take my word for it and I happen to remember reading that article just a few days ago. As for the next version of windows consumers have largely rejected Microsoft's plan. Now that Windows 8 is doing poorly MS is being pressured to backtrack and revalue the desktop but that's not what they want. They want users to embrace Metro and they want to ditch the desktop in favor of it. Valve didn't know Windows 8 was going to do so poorly when they started development of Steam Machines though and they don't want to be caught flat footed if MS makes another, more successful, attempt at it. Thus Steam Machines are a hedge.

Asmodai said,
No disrespect but you have no idea what you're talking about. I AM a professional programmer. I've been in the industry for over a decade. I use Visual Studio at work EVERY DAY.

Then you know that there's potentially over a dozen menus and hundreds of menu items, more with third party addons, tons of toolbars, windows and panels everywhere, console tools, third party dialogs/editors/etc, all sorts of fun stuff... none of which would be in any way feasible on a single Modern UI display.

Seriously. Make a poll on the poll forum, ask how many people would prefer a Modern UI version of Visual Studio, Eclipse, Netbeans, etc etc... see how many say yes.

Asmodai said,
Are you seriously having this hard of a time following what I'm trying to say? I must be explaining this really poorly.

No, I'm just seriously having a hard time believing you're still saying that the desktop is going to disappear, even after you say yourself that they're (finally) starting to listen to their customers and backtrack on it a bit. They can want anything they want. It's not what they want, it's what their customer wants, and the customer always gets the final say, one way or another.

Max Norris said,

Then you know that there's potentially over a dozen menus and hundreds of menu items, more with third party addons, tons of toolbars, windows and panels everywhere, console tools, third party dialogs/editors/etc, all sorts of fun stuff... none of which would be in any way feasible on a single Modern UI display.

The same could be said for the entire Office Suite. Even if you don't believe a single app in it is very complex the complexity of the entire suite must come close in your mind to Visual Studio... and yet they're making a Metro version of it.
Max Norris said,

Seriously. Make a poll on the poll forum, ask how many people would prefer a Modern UI version of Visual Studio, Eclipse, Netbeans, etc etc... see how many say yes.

That's because Metro has failed to catch on. That's why Windows 8.x sales are so bad and they are rumored to be backtracking for Windows 9. People don't like Metro but MS wants them to. MS didn't know Metro was going to tank as bad as it did and neither did Valve. If they did they probably wouldn't have released Windows 8 (at least not in the form they did) and Valve probably wouldn't have made Steam Machines. You have the benefit of hindsight, they didn't. MS wanted Metro to succeed and they wanted to EVENTUALLY replace the desktop with it. Consumers have forced them to rethink their plans though, just like they had to backtrack on making Visual Studio 11 Express Editions Metro-Only and just like they had to backtrack on many of the Xbox One capabilities.
Max Norris said,

No, I'm just seriously having a hard time believing you're still saying that the desktop is going to disappear, even after you say yourself that they're (finally) starting to listen to their customers and backtrack on it a bit. They can want anything they want. It's not what they want, it's what their customer wants, and the customer always gets the final say, one way or another.

Then clearly you are NOT understanding what I am saying because I am most certainly NOT saying that the Desktop is going to disappear. I'm saying Valve began developing Steam Machine before Windows 8 even launched as a hedge against Microsoft's plan at the time to EVENTUALLY (over multiple OS releases) phase out non-metro "desktop" apps in favor of Metro derived apps. Valve wanted to have something in place so they weren't left out in the cold in the event Microsoft actually pulled it off. Windows 8 and Metro is a flop though and MS appears to be revising their plans to no longer downplay desktop apps so much. Steam Machines are here now though, the developments done, so why throw it out? It's better to just keep the platform around just in case MS tries again to go down that route and actually makes something consumers accept in droves.

Asmodai said,
The same could be said for the entire Office Suite. Even if you don't believe a single app in it is very complex the complexity of the entire suite must come close in your mind to Visual Studio... and yet they're making a Metro version of it.

The entire Office suite isn't even remotely as complex as a developer's IDE, not even close. And again, how is that even going to work? Going to cram a bajillion buttons onto a toolbar? What about completely wrecking compatibility with hundreds of third party addons? What about all the dialogs/windows/views that extensions add? Your actual text editor is going to be a small one inch square once all is said and done, ignoring the stuff that's not even available anymore.

Asmodai said,
That's because Metro has failed to catch on.

No, because it would be a complete disaster, not only trying to shoehorn something like that into a completely inappropriate interface but a productivity disaster. I use three displays when I have Visual Studio going... how am I going to cram all that into one and still be able to maintain the same level of productivity or usability? Swipe back and forth every 2 seconds? Kiss all my addons and extensions goodbye? Even a die-hard Modern lover would find that to be a serious stretch of the imagination. Again, pitch the idea as a poll, see how it goes. I seriously doubt any serious programmer would even consider it as a legitimate option versus the traditional tools. Hobbyists f'ing around with a watered down toy, sure.

Asmodai said,
Then clearly you are NOT understanding what I am saying because I am most certainly NOT saying that the Desktop is going to disappear.

Asmodai said,
Then Windows 9 came out a few years later and the migration continued... by the time Windows 10 came out very few people even ran non-Metro/Modern "desktop" apps so MS drops support of it and while some people would be upset not enough to significantly effect sales (plus they can just stay on Windows 9 until they are ready to "upgrade" their desktop apps).

Maybe our understanding of "saying that" differs, but that sure sounded like a prediction of the desktop disappearing to me. I get the "hedge" idea, but even if Valve says it (and Gabe's said lots of silly things lately), flawed is flawed. If anything it sounds more like fearmongering hoping to fill a need that doesn't even exist, never mind at the end of the day do you think they'll even care of people care about the Windows or SteamOS debate? Doesn't mean jack to them as a sale is a sale, regardless of which platform it's on.

Max Norris said,

The entire Office suite isn't even remotely as complex as a developer's IDE, not even close.

Are you sure you are a programmer? This is just so wrong I don't even know where to start.
Max Norris said,
And again, how is that even going to work? Going to cram a bajillion buttons onto a toolbar? What about completely wrecking compatibility with hundreds of third party addons? What about all the dialogs/windows/views that extensions add? Your actual text editor is going to be a small one inch square once all is said and done, ignoring the stuff that's not even available anymore.

Your realize plug-ins for Office are far more widely used than Visual Studio plug-ins, yet there is a Metro version coming. Word is all about the text editor, yet a Metro version of Word is coming. Metro doesn't mean you can't use a keyboard.
Max Norris said,

Maybe our understanding of "saying that" differs, but that sure sounded like a prediction of the desktop disappearing to me. I get the "hedge" idea, but even if Valve says it (and Gabe's said lots of silly things lately), flawed is flawed. If anything it sounds more like fearmongering hoping to fill a need that doesn't even exist, never mind at the end of the day do you think they'll even care of people care about the Windows or SteamOS debate? Doesn't mean jack to them as a sale is a sale, regardless of which platform it's on.

Way to take a quote completely out of context. Maybe that's it, you're a politician not a programmer. Now add in the lines immediately before that quote that you conveniently cut out:

"Lets say Windows 8 was a phenomenal success. (Valve didn't know how it was going to do when they started developing SteamOS/Steam Machines). Over the life of Windows 8 more and more people moved more and more apps to Metro/Modern."

"Lets say" clearly begins a hypothetical. What hypothetical was that? The one where "Windows 8 was a phenomenal success". Then I go on to describe what MS wanted to do. Now Windows 8 was most certainly NOT a phenomenal success, but again Valve and MS didn't know that beforehand, and so MS has had to revise their plan and rumors are that Windows 9 will once again be more non-metro "desktop" app focused.

Asmodai said,
Are you sure you are a programmer? This is just so wrong I don't even know where to start.

Yup, some 35 years, somewhat working right now as I chuckle over this. Go ahead and start. Seriously. Compare the "complexity" of a word processor with a full blown development suite.

Asmodai said,
Your realize plug-ins for Office are far more widely used than Visual Studio plug-ins, yet there is a Metro version coming.

You realize those plugins won't work anymore either, right? Brilliant.

Asmodai said,
"Lets say" clearly begins a hypothetical. Maybe that's it, you're a politician not a programmer.

Yes.... I can read, especially the hypothetical part you're clearing backpedaling on now.

Max Norris said,

Yup, some 35 years, somewhat working right now as I chuckle over this. Go ahead and start. Seriously. Compare the "complexity" of a word processor with a full blown development suite.

Not Word, the ENTIRE SUITE. All of the applications combined, not any single one. Combined they all have huge plug-in support, lots of menus (which clearly is a big thing for you - as if the number of menus are a good measure of complexity, rofl), etc. Try again.
Max Norris said,

You realize those plugins won't work anymore either, right? Brilliant.

That would be my point genius. You implied that MS would not make a version of Visual Studio because it would break the visual studio plug-ins. I was pointing out that the fact that they are going to break all of the Office plug-ins isn't stopping them from making a Metro version of Office. Breaking plug-in compatibility is clearly not something that is going to stop Microsoft from making a Metro version of an app. Try again.
Max Norris said,

Yes.... I can read, especially the hypothetical part you're clearing backpedaling on now.

I'm not backpedaling on anything. You took a quote completely out of context to support your incorrect claim and got called on it. Try again.

Asmodai said,
Not Word, the ENTIRE SUITE. All of the applications combined, not any single one. Combined they all have huge plug-in support, lots of menus (which clearly is a big thing for you - as if the number of menus are a good measure of complexity, rofl), etc. Try again.

Nor are they one gigantic application but a bunch of smaller ones. Again, pick any one in the suite and honestly compare it to a development suite instead of "rofl" or insults as an answer, tell me all the complexities of what Word's doing in the background versus the bajillion things that VS is doing. Tell me how they're going to implement all that functionality in whatever interface they're going to come up with. Hint, the smaller office applications are all compacted into the ribbon... there's a reason Visual Studio doesn't have a ribbon interface. Try again, still waiting.

Asmodai said,
That would be my point genius. You implied that MS would not make a version of Visual Studio because it would break the visual studio plug-ins. I was pointing out that the fact that they are going to break all of the Office plug-ins isn't stopping them from making a Metro version of Office.

Right, a "metro version" of Office, which they give away for free with the devices to begin with. Not a $4000-$13000+ programming suite. Big difference. Think a crippled version of that's going to sell well? Think this through, "genius". Free Modern watered down version of Express? Mayyyyyybe for the hobbyists to mess with, a professional won't touch it, I'd wager money on it.

Asmodai said,
You took a quote completely out of context to support your incorrect claim and got called on it. Try again.

Ummm, no, I didn't. I based my replies on what you said, even quoting the bits, sorry. All you've done is repeated the same "predictions" over and over, tossed a few poor attempts at insults, and not actually proven, well, anything. "Well I do this for a living so obviously I know what I'm talking about" doesn't exactly cut it either.

Max Norris said,

Nor are they one gigantic application but a bunch of smaller ones.

At no point did I say they were, try again.
Max Norris said,
Again, pick any one in the suite and honestly compare it to a development suite instead of "rofl" or insults as an answer, tell me all the complexities of what Word's doing in the background versus the bajillion things that VS is doing. Tell me how they're going to implement all that functionality in whatever interface they're going to come up with.

Again, at no point did I say any single application was more complex then Visual Studio. I said the ENTIRE SUITE (of separate applications) COMBINED is probably similar. I have no idea why this is so difficult for you to understand.
Max Norris said,
Ummm, no, I didn't. I based my replies on what you said, even quoting the bits, sorry.

Completely out of context so that their meaning was completely different.

Max Norris said,
Well I do this for a living so obviously I know what I'm talking about" doesn't exactly cut it either.

That was just proving you don't know what your talking about when you said "if you've actually used Visual Studio or another professional IDE in a production environment you'd understand why this is probably the worst idea ever." because I do in fact use Visual Studio in a production environment. You're the one who brought that up, not me, I just fixed your mistake about my experience, try again.

Asmodai said,
Again, at no point did I say any single application was more complex then Visual Studio. I said the ENTIRE SUITE (of separate applications) COMBINED is probably similar. I have no idea why this is so difficult for you to understand.

Ok... so a bunch of applications grouped together might be about as complicated as the single program that we were talking about. Is that what you're saying? If so.... that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Throw on Paint, Windows Media Player and a few other applications in there to pad it up some more while you're at it. Still means jack.

Asmodai said,
because I do in fact use Visual Studio in a production environment. You're the one who brought that up, not me, I just fixed your mistake, try again.

I rather doubt that as if you really did, beyond a hobbyist at least (or more likely just trolling as I suspect), you'd instantly know exactly what's wrong with what you're trying to suggest and how spectacularly bad it would be to work with. "Try again?" Ummmm yea ok, I can just repeat that previous point if it'll make you feel any better... but you've still not actually proven otherwise.

This is getting really tiresome going around in circles with nothing but predictions, anecdotes, my supposedly taking your quotes out of context (even though it's perfectly obvious what you were saying) and "I know what I'm talking about because I said so." Come back with a real response please, I'm done wasting my time.

Asmodai said,

I didn't say the desktop machine was going to die. I just said it's not driving Microsoft future OS development because it's share is decreasing while what you call mobile is rising. MS doesn't want a mobile OS and a PC OS. They want to merge them and have one OS. It's very shortsighted of you to cling so strongly to the distinction. Soon 64bit ARM CPUs will start showing up in servers. No, they aren't going to destroy Intel but they'll probably sell well enough to continue being developed. MS will sell WIndows Servers for these systems (based off Windows RT... Windows on ARM) and they won't run desktop apps because they're ARM. Just like Microsoft used to sell Windows Server for MIPS and Alpha back in the day and they couldn't run normal "Desktop" apps either.

Actually, if Microsoft releases a version of Windows Server for ARM anytime soon I expect it would have to be allowed to run third party win32 and .NET applications (what I assume you are referring to when you say "desktop apps"), compiled for ARM of course, or it'd probably not be very useful for anything past maybe hosting simple Microsoft services that come bundled with it. But even if all you wanted to run was bundled MS services, how are you supposed to load a backup agent on it if third party apps aren't supported? I highly doubt anyone is going to be porting their server software to the winrt api anytime soon.

And those non-Intel versions of Windows NT you speak of... I'm pretty sure they also ran win32 applications as well, again it just would have to be compiled for the proper CPU. Maybe when you say "normal desktop apps" you're implying x86-compiled win32 apps?

domboy said,
Maybe when you say "normal desktop apps" you're implying x86-compiled win32 apps?

Yes, the issue being discussed in that comment was MS breaking backwards compatibility. I'm sorry if I didn't make that clear, I assumed using the older MIPS and Alpha examples would clarify (they obviously significantly predate Metro.) The point being that MS is almost certainly going to release a version of Windows for servers (i.e. not mobile) that doesn't run the vast majority of existing Windows software (something Max seems to think would never happen, especially for professional software) Sure they don't HAVE to use Metro, maybe (probably in the very first version) they will just recompile everything for ARM but just because you can just recompile your app for ARM and it will work doesn't mean most 3rd party software will. Even if they do if it's a commercial application they probably aren't going to just give it to existing customers for free, you'll likely have to upgrade to the newer version that adds ARM support. So if you're running an x86 Windows Server today and you upgrade to an ARM Windows Server in the future then very few (if any) of the apps you have will work. You may be able to get new versions of them, maybe those new versions will just be recompiled Win32 for ARM but MS hopes that many will take the opportunity to rewrite the GUI components in Metro. Lets keep that in mind as well, every app doesn't have to be completely rewritten for Metro. Metro is primarily a GUI language. Server services don't have to be rewritten to support it, nor do command line tools like compilers, nor do many libraries where most of the logic of complex software tends to reside. Only the GUI elements have to be replaced and while that certainly isn't going to happen over night (I'm not suggesting every 3rd party server software company is suddenly going to rewrite all their GUIs the instant Windows Server on ARM is released) that is the direction MS would like to see people go over time. Metro is not intended to be only ever used for lightweight apps.

Max Norris said,
So dropping ancient 16 bit support in the x64 build is a sign that the desktop is disappearing?

Asmodai said,
No, that's not what I said at all. I was just using it as an example of how MS has in the past dropped support for applications people use, that were at one point the most widely used type of application, after newer technologies have come around. You made it seem like such a thing was impossible and MS would never do it but they have.

I don't think this is such a great example to demonstrate MS' supposed sudden lack of commitment to maintaining software backwards compatibility, simply because in this case they were forced to do so due to a hardware issue. Adding 16-bit app support to a 64-bit OS would have meant developing a complete 16-bit CPU emulator, and this was obviously deemed to be not worth it given the tiny number of users still using such old apps. Moreover they did provide Virtual PC in case people still wanted to run older OSes and programs. In all other cases though MS still bends over backwards most of the time to allow older apps to still run, including going so far as to fix errors in them at run time.

Asmodai said,
If Windows 8 sold like hotcakes and Metro/Modern was embraced by the user base Visual Studio would have gone metro in a version or two.

You can speculate all you want but I don't believe this would have ever happened. First, you can't really compare the complexity of an entire suite of programs to a single IDE like Visual Studio. Second, I highly doubt the Metro Office apps will be as complex as their desktop counterparts, or provide every single function the latter do. Third, and this is important, it might actually be ok for the Metro apps to be less complex. Why? Because even now very few people use or ever know about all the features/cruft the Office apps have accumulated over the years. Excising these would result in very few complaints, if at all. I bet the same can't be said about VS though. Metrofying such a complex beast so it still looks good and is easy to use and retains all the existing features would be an impossible task IMO, and I have no doubt there'll be howls of protest from developers if things were left out. Just my opinion though, and I look forward to comparing the Metro Office apps with their desktop counterparts once the former are released.

I really don't get how this would work. Why would you bring a gaming OS "app" inside a gaming OS. Why would two gaming markets share the same console?

Drewidian said,
I wish they MS would just worked with Valve to make a Steam OS app for Xbox One.
Because MS is not going to undercut its own Xbox Store just to appease a partner/competitor.

Mr.XXIV said,
I really don't get how this would work. Why would you bring a gaming OS "app" inside a gaming OS. Why would two gaming markets share the same console?

You would just have an APP that has the similar functionality. You would be able to access media, games, and other services that any Steambox would be able to. The only thing you wouldn't be able to do is play the Linux based games locally unless the OS ran in another VM on the box the way the games and apps run in their own virtualized environment.

Drewidian said,
I wish they MS would just worked with Valve to make a Steam OS app for Xbox One.

I think its just valve's Founder who doesn't like windows 8 and acts emotional. anyway... he will learn his lesson when MS found a way to port PC games into XBOX with or without steam (either way would be awesome)

SteamOS is what we call a "hedge" -- it's designed to push back the likelihood of Windows 8's app store maturing to the point where it delivers full blown *desktop* UI apps (especially games!), in the hopes of keeping their own ecosystem alive.

Let's face it -- Valve doesn't make as much money on their games as they do on Steam and its content distribution platform. It's simple business sense.

For SteamOS to be a success, it has to offer something that Windows 8 does not. And at this point, it really doesn't. I can forsee Microsoft releasing an "Xbox Streaming Appliance" of some kind that lets you "broadcast" any PC or XBox One to any other TV in the house -- it's how you can have ubiquitous connectivity. The technology (RemoteFX) is already there to do it.

Further, SteamOS is going to be a problem for online gamers... you are going to sit comfortably in front of your TV with your new SteamOS controller, and get annihilated by people who play with a mouse and keyboard. Then you'll fire up your PC and play there, making the point of having a PC in the living room pointless, at least for gaming. And on the media end SteamOS is almost non existent, so for things like XBMC, Plex, etc... nothing is working out of the box and with ease, so it's easier to stick to an ecosystem where it all works.

I'm sorry but for me personally -- I don't see the allure. I like my Mouse/Keyboard setup for gaming, and I would love to do it on my TV in my family room, but I don't want a controller... I suppose it's great for "streaming" in the house but I would do that with media (which I already do, thanks to Media Browser 3 and Roku).

If SteamOS doesn't offer more functionality, at a lower price point than PCs, and have more titles to choose from... it will be relegated to only the Slashdot nerds who love Linux so much they will buy this type of a box just to say so. But since most of the games don't work under Linux, Wine is a poor substitute for playing, well... I think the future of SteamOS really rides more on the idea that Microsoft totally screws up on its end. And if they get a competent CEO... I don't see any favor falling to Valve.

TLDR: They should work harder on Half Life 3.

Shyatic said,
Let's face it -- Valve doesn't make as much money on their games as they do on Steam and its content distribution platform. It's simple business sense.

Wrong, if they would have created hardware or if the steam OS was not free it would have make sense, its non-sense now because its the same business model with much less potential users than what they already have.
The rest of your points are completely valid. steambox brings nothing new to the table so it is doomed to fail unless they have some winning card hidden somewhere.

Good write up. However, I don't see this going anywhere. Cool concept, but console gamers are going to want an actual console. PC gamers are going to want a true PC with the keyboard mouse. They want to tweak things and all that fun stuff. Bring the two together isn't going to work.

Pretty much this -- for me it's also not being locked into one store plus the tiny selection available on non-Windows setups. Although I am curious about their new gamepad for that small handful of games that play better on a pad versus a Kb/M.

Don't forget the SteamOS ability to stream a game from a full blown gaming PC, that's what has me most interested, and why I'm planning a custom Steam Machine to sit along side my consoles

Sraf said,
Don't forget the SteamOS ability to stream a game from a full blown gaming PC, that's what has me most interested, and why I'm planning a custom Steam Machine to sit along side my consoles

Just opinion of course, but if I was going to play Windows games, I'd just throw Windows on the thing, get the same experience (plus more) and not have to have two computers doing the work of one. Not a fan of redundant hardware, especially when its expensive.

exactly, If steam wanted to succeed with this somehow should have created Windows based "Big Picture" not linux based so they could convince 90% of steam users (windows users) to buy and use steam Box. I think they are acting emotional and from my experience anything emotional would not have good financial outcome.

Max Norris said,

Just opinion of course, but if I was going to play Windows games, I'd just throw Windows on the thing, get the same experience (plus more) and not have to have two computers doing the work of one. Not a fan of redundant hardware, especially when its expensive.

"The same experience" isn't entirely accurate. Windows and Linux are not the same. Windows, of course, has the huge gaming library, where Linux only has some 250 games. Linux is fully open-source and flexible with lower performance overhead than Windows.

Seeing how the main demographic for PC gamers are people who like to mod and squeeze out every bit of performance, I don't see how steam being successful on Linux could be a bad thing. Most games released for Linux also run on MacOSX and Windows, so it isn't like you are segmenting the PC market.

Senlis said,
"The same experience" isn't entirely accurate. Windows and Linux are not the same. Windows, of course, has the huge gaming library, where Linux only has some 250 games. Linux has is fully open-source and flexible with lower performance overhead than Windows.

Well yea them not being exactly the same is a given. End of the day though.. is it running the software I need it to? Yes? Then it's all good. Performance overhead is subjective. That depends on the software running, just because it's running under Linux doesn't guarantee it'll be faster.

Senlis said,
Seeing how the main demographic for PC gamers are people who like to mod and squeeze out every bit of performance, I don't see how steam being successful on Linux could be a bad thing. Most games released for Linux also run on MacOSX and Windows, so it isn't like you are segmenting the PC market.

Not saying it's a bad thing, shoot more games for Linux would be good for those who prefer it as their primary OS of choice, I just wouldn't bank on it as there's a lot more people using OSX and there's a lot of titles needing ported to that too. And again, performance is subjective, from my own hardware experiences anyway, Linux beating Windows in gaming performance is hit or miss. What I am saying is that (currently) there's a huge difference in titles available between one and the other, plus that's not counting the large number titles that aren't available through Steam at all, never mind some people may not even want Steam to begin with. Why would I want to have two machines going when I can just use one, run everything with no compromises and call it a day and save a lot of money in the process?

Max Norris said,

Well yea them not being exactly the same is a given. End of the day though.. is it running the software I need it to? Yes? Then it's all good. Performance overhead is subjective. That depends on the software running, just because it's running under Linux doesn't guarantee it'll be faster.


Not saying it's a bad thing, shoot more games for Linux would be good for those who prefer it as their primary OS of choice, I just wouldn't bank on it as there's a lot more people using OSX and there's a lot of titles needing ported to that too. And again, performance is subjective, from my own hardware experiences anyway, Linux beating Windows in gaming performance is hit or miss. What I am saying is that (currently) there's a huge difference in titles available between one and the other, plus that's not counting the large number titles that aren't available through Steam at all, never mind some people may not even want Steam to begin with. Why would I want to have two machines going when I can just use one, run everything with no compromises and call it a day and save a lot of money in the process?

in regards to steam + linux, the only complaints I hear from people are centered on how much software and games run on it. In other words, the underlying OS is better, we just don't have as much software. This is why I am hopeful for the future of gaming as we are steadily seeinga rise in support for linux. As support rises, so well the user base.

As for the steam box...its just a specialized pc (you could say the same thing about all consoles). No big deal, I could build one right now.