Gabe Newell Wants To Support Linux, Because Windows 8 Is A ‘Catastrophe’

Gabe Newell Wants To Support Linux, Because Windows 8 Is A ‘Catastrophe’

The head of Valve says the company is working to develop for Linux, calling Microsoft’s Windows 8 a “catastrophe” that will lead product manufacturers to abandon the platform.

At a gaming event in Seattle last night, as reported by AllThingsD, Valve CEO Gabe Newell said the one thing holding back Linux is video game support.

“The big problem that is holding back Linux is games. People don’t realise how critical games are in driving consumer purchasing behaviour,” Newell said, according to AllThingsD. “We want to make it as easy as possible for the 2,500 games on Steam to run on Linux as well. It’s a hedging strategy. I think Windows 8 is a catastrophe for everyone in the PC space. I think we’ll lose some of the top-tier PC/OEMs, who will exit the market. I think margins will be destroyed for a bunch of people. If that’s true, then it will be good to have alternatives to hedge against that eventuality.”

Earlier this year, Stardock CEO Brad Wardell wrote an article for Kotaku about Windows 8’s issues. Wardell called the new operating system a “usability nightmare.” If other PC developers feel similarly, perhaps they’d be more than willing to follow Newell’s lead to the Linux platform.

Newell also talked about touchscreens, calling them “short-term” and saying he thinks the future of interaction will be through computerized wristbands.

“We think touch is short-term,” he said. “The mouse and keyboard were stable for 25 years, but I think touch will be stable for 10 years. Post-touch will be stable for a really long time, longer than 25 years.

“There’s some crazy speculative stuff. This is super nerdy, and you can tease us years from now, but as it turns out, your tongue is one of the best mechanical systems to your brain, but it’s disconcerting to have the person sitting next you go blah, blah, blah, blah… I don’t think tongue input will happen, but I do think we will have bands on our wrists, and you’ll be doing something with your hands, which are really expressive.”

Perhaps we’ll be using them to make Steam hats. According to Newell, there’s a guy in Kansas making virtual hats for $US150,000 a year. $US150,000 a year. Anyone else want to get into the hat-making business?

Valve’s Gabe Newell on the Future of Games, Wearable Computers, Windows 8 and More [AllThingsD]


  • Windows 8’s desktop environment is far better than Windows 7.
    The Start Screen is a polarising addition, I like it, but I can see why others don’t.

    But, it’s such a minor thing. Who are these people who spend all day in the start menu that are put out by this? Pin frequently used apps to the taskbar, some more shortcuts on the desktop, and problem solved. The start menu, as it is in Windows 7, is largely redundant.

    • Agreed. I’ve been using Windows 8 for the past 3 months. It is solidly better than Win7 in my opinion. The Metro Start screen is more or less useless for PC I will agree. But it stays completely out of the way for the most part.

  • I like Gabe Newell, I cannot repay him for the countless hours of enjoyment the Half-Life franchise has bought me, but… He didn’t want anything to do with the PS3, then ended up bringing Steam to it?! My point is, never say never Gabe…

    • This is exactly what I was thinking back to, Gabe absolutely ripped on the ps3 back in the day. I recall him saying even after it was released something like the whole console was a huge mistake and they should get rid of it and apologise… now they’re prioritising it over the 360. I don’t know why Gabe doesn’t get picked up on this stuff more often, because he does talk out his ass a whole lot.

      • If you’ve got a link to him saying that, I wouldn’t mind it. I do remember him complaining about the PS3 being really awkward to program for, and not receiving support. The reason Valve’s now preferring Sony is MS’s policy of no free DLC, charging for patches and refusing Steam integration. Sony’s allowed this, and after a number of years being out there, there’s been enough advances in PS3 coding to lessen the burden.

      • Valve actually prefers Ps3 over Xbox because it’s more open source, the comments you’re talking about were the core architectures and something about the memory I believe. This is why he doesn’t like Windows 8 atm because you need to send everything through their app store (like Apple) and most people know how xbox patching goes down so Gabe’s probably assuming it will be the same.

  • As great as Gabe is, I guess, what do they actually expect to do here?

    They’re just a content delivery system.

    Aside from Valve first-party games, they’re in no position to actually MAKE games compatible with *nix – only the developers are.

    • They could make a W.I.N.E like system so that games that rely on windows files will have alternative files to use on the linux system, or make a tool that makes it easier for games to be made linux compatible.

      • Or even have steam as the thing which “runs” the games. It wouldn’t be that hard to do and would mean that they can make any platform play a “steam game” I.E. this would consolidate not only Linux but also MAC if they can run Steam. So your OS would be running steam but steam would be the games operating system.

      • This is what I think they are trying to do.

        I think their goal is to make their own console type of thing and maybe their own OS.

        I think if they did make a console and made hardware purchasing easier and more understandable for a lot of people it would really benefit the PC business and could easily be a hit. An open console hasnt really been done before and it could actually work quite well.

      • Yeah good luck with that. Nothing runs on Wine, it’s a big dog turd.

        They’d just be recreating a shithouse Java Virtual Machine. You’ll have users whinging that the platform isn’t optimised enough and that games run faster natively. If everyone developed games in a multi-platform language like Java, they’d be dog ass slow. That is still why people sit there banging out large chunks of C++ code and flip the bird to languages like C#.

  • I tried the consumer preview. While some of the apps were kind of ok, trying to actually navigate the OS was abysmal.

    • How so? Sure, there is an initial shock at working out what to do without a start button, and MS are stupid for getting rid of it (it was there in the Dev Preview last year), but once you work that out it is smooth sailing.

      I had to revert to Win7 for a few weeks recently and getting back onto Win8 last week made me really appreciate how much better it is. Everything happens so much faster. It boots faster than my 3G modem, shuts down in the time it takes me to switch my keyboard off and reach over to turn the monitor off and everything is noticeably snappier. I absolutely love it.

      • Installing Office 2010 began the process of cluttering the start page, which was very annoying and tiresome to clean up. Attempting to get to the control panel was a chore when using the touch interface. Having to switch between the desktop and start page to get anywhere gets annoying very quickly. Sure, it’s responsive and quick to navigate. But that means nothing if the actual act of navigation is now more difficult than in previous version of windows.

      • That’s the problem though – the initial shock and working out what to do. You want something that is familiar that you can work around straight away. Imagine companies who are deciding to switch over to 8. They would have to spend time and money to train their staff to use it because the interface isn’t very intuitive.

        • Working in IT support, I honestly cannot imagine many companies even making it that far. Most people who work in IT support know just how much their users loathe change…even with training.
          Most IT support staff have taken one look at the Win8 interface and said “Fuck that for a joke”, knowing that they’ll never stop hearing the wails and whines of their users who cannot easily find something they once could in Windows 7.

          Seeing as businesses are pretty much the MS bread & butter, the metro interface just seems like a really stupid move for a desktop environment if it cannot be toggled off.

          • Actually most competent IT staff that understand Windows, know that all of this will be able to be managed and turned off via Policy and registry. You obviously have no concept of deployment to say something so ridiculous. Go back to help desk and try to learn something this time.

          • Microsoft have said in many interviews that the metro interface is not able to be toggled off. In testing out the consumer preview, I wasn’t able to find any policy or registry setting that would make the interface more usable for regular users. Group policy and registry changes aren’t going to do shit. The OS is a total nightmare for support staff.

      • Haha such a power-user’s perspective, talking about the speed at which you can do things – of course YOU can do things faster with windows 8 motormouth, you’re tech savvy and passionate about windows, the very antithesis of most of the world.

        Also they are not stupid for getting rid of the start button, the concept of “press the start button then go to shutdown” still confuses the hell out of people.

  • I think you’ll find that the Metro is an overlay that can be turned off for desktop users. If this is true then I don’t so a problem with games or any other programme running on Win8 as it should be almost the same as Win7.

    Having said that, I’ll be staying with Win7 for a year or two longer for my desktop as there is nothign wrong with it at the moment and it runs all my programmes. I might purchase a Surface Pro tablet next year though.

    • You can’t turn it off but it is the easiest thing in the world to ignore if you don’t need it. Things is, I find myself looking for excuses to use the Metro apps because some of them work really well. Others are less successful but you are basically getting a bunch of new things for free, so its hard to complain.
      If you buy a Surface, I bet it is just a matter of weeks before you wish you’d taken advantage of the $40 upgrade for your PC.

      • Youll be able to turn it off with policy or registry. Theres simply no way MS would force a new UI on enterprise customers with no way back.

  • All they need to do to make Windows 8 the new Windows 7 is keep the Start Button. I’ve been using Windows 8 as my main machine for a while and it’s great. Fast, stable and it’s the fist time that I’ve ever shut my machine down every day without worry that in the morning I need to go and make coffee, shower, etc. I make my coffee and then boot!! But the whole switch to the start screen is confusing and a little counterproductive. Dual monitor does make it better though. I can see how some people will really struggle with it though. I do recall however that when Windows 95 was released – lots of people were sure that it would fail….I’m pretty sure it didn’t.

    The claims about touch are bit bit absurd though. No one is saying that you need to totally do away with the mouse and keyboard (look at Microsoft’s own Surface tablet). Game makers need to innovate and shift with the time. Look at some of the awesome games on the iPad. A touch interface for gaming and it mostly works. Windows tablets with have the best of both worlds. Gabe Newell – it’s a new world – innovate and accept change or fade away…..

  • I don’t understand the push for touch screens honestly. They’re no where as accurate as a mouse and you will never able to type as fast as you can on a keyboard. They’re a gimmick, like motion controls and touchscreen controllers.

    • Most sheeple simply don’t need that accuracy. For those of us that do, Win8 works exactly like Win7 with a mouse and keyboard. MS are just trying to give their users options, which is not a bad thing.

  • Yeah why go after the OS with 90% market share when you go after the one with 0.99%. Pretty sure it will go up from 90% when Win 8 hits tablets so I would like to know what Gabe is smoking right now.

  • Only the hot corner swapping full screen games is going to kill Win8 for games. Everything else is either nice (a lot of the background improvements) or able to be worked around (just use the desktop like normal). Even Metro will get decent apps to enhance games, like various launchers.

    But MS REALLY NEED to fix the hot corners or there is going to be a lot of games hatred on the horizon.

    • I agree, I absolutely HATE hot corners, and that’s just from using Linux (I use Gnome 3, which has an activities hot corner, which can be really useful but also excessively annoying). I’m really scared to try Windows 8, considering how annoying the SINGLE hot corner is in Gnome 3.

  • I don’t know what the issue is. For gamers, Windows 8 is no different from using it on Windows 7. I know. I’m using it on my Laptop for Steam and even Valve games. and yes it’s all keyboard and mouse
    Touch is only an option. and when you go to Desktop, and have Steam pinned to the taskbar it’s no different from previous. The only drawback will be the WindowsRT devices that can’t run any desktop apps, they’ll be left to buy the ‘Metro’ games only (like with the iPad/Android games). Saying that Linux is going to take over is just silly, Linux may need games. but it also needs to be uber user friendly (and it’s NOT)

  • I’ve been waiting for Windows 8 because I want to upgrade to 64-bit windows and don’t want to by another copy of Windows 7 when the next version is just around the corner.

  • Lols. Stardock.

    Worst piece of shit bloaty apps Ive ever had the misfortune to support. If the head of Stardock hates W8, I just liked it a little bit more.

  • Whats his complaint?? Wont it run Half Life 2: Episode 3 on it???? Oh wait.. is that even a product? Or is it that its got a nice little appstore built in for Devs to use thats more convenient to get to than Steam?? Or could it be like a lot of people – you hate change and you hate being forced to change moreso?

    MS have already shown they have gone to lengths to improve the graphics core in Win8 to speed up, well, everything. Gamers should see some small doses of speed increases upon installing it. Thats with much better multi graphis card support, ill be upgrading on release and giving my 4 monitors a run for their money!

    • I think its more that Windows is going down the path to being a closed platform that is a catastrophe. Its got nothing to do with change, I find the people that havent really tried out the Win8 previews are the ones complaining about the start screen.

      But I can see why he might be worried as most people will have the MS store on their Win8 pcs on launch. This could see problems as MS might push GFWL on games and wont be overly competitive going off xbox pricing.

  • If I was Gabe I’d be feeling the heat too if one of the largest software makers in the world was about to open a digital distribution store

    • You mean like the digital distribution store they’ve been running for the past 4-5 years that everyone hates and nobody uses?

      • No I’m not, I’m talking about a whole new experience integrated into Windows. If you’ve used Windows 8 you would already know how good it is. It works just as well as the App Store on my iPad and in some cases better.

  • Gabe is right, windows 8 is really, really horrible!
    Metro apps do not work well with a keyboard and mouse, the metro screen is a backwards step for program launching (hey MS, why do you think that people who launch programs from the task bar want to be kicked out to an other screen when even the start menu is too much for them?!), the whole idea of metro “apps” only being being sold via the windows store is flat out anti competitive and what happens if they drop the desktop in Windows 9?

    Think you idiots!

      • You are acutally wrong there. The ‘Metro’ (no longer known as metro it is the modern ui) interface cannot be disabled in group policy. It cannot be bypassed without an application like start 8 doing the job. Microsoft have stipulated this.

    • You’ve got it backwards there buddy. It’s not that metro apps can only be sold via the app store, it’s that the app store will only sell metro apps. Regular distribution methods will remain untouched.

  • Can’t wait for W8 on my phone and on a tablet – but I’ll be waiting for SP1 at least before I plug it onto my PC. With space for only a single screen on my desk the old switcheroo required currently between interfaces is enough to keep me on W7 for the forseeable future.

  • WINDOWS IS AWESOME! Nobody even YOU should attempt to downgrade windows when you know that it is the most DOMINANT software package in the WORLD! I rest my case.

  • He’s dead right. Linux as an OS is awesome, but it’s lacking in games and commercial applications (e.g. Adobe).

    The only reason I boot into Windows at all is to play DayZ.

  • I want to use linux always but lack of game support is so annoying, maybe if he pushes this more devoleprs will make there games playable on linux

  • wonder if it will chew up 40% of the cpu like his osx version does currently. Shit Gabe, get it together.

  • I dont get why WIndows 8 is a “catastrophe” as it Windows 7 with a Metro UI overlay + alot of under the hood workings :-/

  • So it’s a “catastrophe” because it runs exactly the same in the back end and has an option to run with the classic desktop style, huh?…oh right this is a comment made by the same man who said PS3 was a “closed platform” but then proceeded to release something on that very platform 6 months later. Explains everything.

  • Gabe is just scared that with the Windows Marketplace coming to Windows 8, it will become the new game distribution point and not steam.

    He is just bad mouthing a new competitor

    • Also Linux is awesome. Because you can dual boot it with windows, and thus you have an OS installed on your PC that doesn’t have your game library in it so you don’t have to worry about being distracted by steam all the time.

      Oh wait.

  • if linux can get good game support i’m done with windows… if it happens its a looooooong way off though… OS X will get it before Linux does…

  • So Gabe Newell says it’s going to be a catastrophe and that OEMs are going to abandon it, but doesn’t say why.
    Seeing as though Windows 8 will have an App Store and Xbox Live built in, that makes Gabe Newell (and Steam) a competitor to Microsoft. When people go badmouthing their competitors without explaining their stance, I take what they’re saying with a huge grain of salt. In this case, seeing as it’s Gabe Newell, the grain of salt is smaller, but it’s still a grain of salt nonetheless.

  • what I love is the fact everyone has run wild with his side comment about windows 8.

    and the fact Gabe is talking about the monetisation is a catastrophe, not the user interface or any of that. The back end to Win8 is lovely!

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