When Gabe Newell talks people tend to listen, and today Newell had a lot to say about the issues with Windows 8 and Linux. According to Newell the main reason that Linux hasn’t taken off is because the lack of games for the system. Newell believes that people don’t realize how “critical games are,” to selling an operating system.
“The big problem that is holding back Linux is games. People don’t realize how critical games are in driving consumer purchasing behavior, 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.”
But then Newell went on to talk about some of the major issues that plague Windows 8, and in his opinion cause many “top-tier equipment manufacturers” to leave the computer market.
“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.”
Finally Newell went on to talk about innovation and the future of the industry and the need for open versus closed sources:
“In order for innovation to happen, a bunch of things that aren’t happening on closed platforms need to occur. Valve wouldn’t exist today without the PC, or Epic, or Zynga, or Google. They all wouldn’t have existed without the openness of the platform. There’s a strong tempation to close the platform, because they look at what they can accomplish when they limit the competitors’ access to the platform, and they say ‘That’s really exciting.’”
“We are looking at the platform and saying, ‘We’ve been a free rider, and we’ve been able to benefit from everything that went into PCs and the Internet, and we have to continue to figure out how there will be open platforms.’”
I agree with some of the things that Newell said, but the one thing I have to disagree with him is saying that Linux hasn’t taken off because of games. The reason Linux hasn’t taken off is because the operating system isn’t really offered when people go to the stores to buy PCs. When a person goes to buy a new computer people generally find that the only PCs being offered are either Apple or one with a Microsoft operating system.
For Linux to truly take off, it needs to be offered as an alternative when the casual consumer goes to the store to buy a new PC or laptop. Newell could be partially right about games being a factor, but to me the biggest issue with Linux is the fact that brand new PCs in stores really don’t offer you the option of Linux.