Steam's In-Home Steaming Is a Wake-up Call for Windows, Linux Is Growing Stronger

The latest feature in Steam is a powerful signal for developers

By on May 22nd, 2014 09:53 GMT

Now that Valve has made the In-Home Steaming feature available to everyone who is using Steam, you might ask yourself if it's of any use for the majority of the Linux players, but that's not the most important question. This seemingly unimportant feature has much broader implications and it might be the game changer in the competition between Windows and Linux.

There is no doubt that Windows is a much better gaming OS than Linux right now. That simple fact has nothing to do with something that can be done only by Windows, but with the support for the platform from third parties.

For years, Windows has been the go-to choice for game developers and hardware manufacturers. This is the equivalent of a trench being dug over the course of many years, and Windows is in a very good position.

If NVIDIA, AMD, and Intel tomorrow started to put the same effort in the Linux drivers as they do for the Windows ones, the two platforms would eventually become evenly matched. That is not the case and it won't happen, at least not in the foreseeable future.

Valve, on the other hand, is making the same bet, a bet that the companies mentioned above are not willing to make. The Steam developers think that Linux is the future and they are playing a very long game. They don't care that Linux has about 1.5% of the desktop market and that Windows seems to be present everywhere.

This is why they made In-Home Streaming, a feature that allows Linux users to stream the games from a Windows computer. As it stands right now, this seems like a pointless exercise. If the user already has a Windows computer capable of running games, why would they stream the same content on another PC running Linux?

In-Home Streaming is a feature that will be used primarily when the Steam Machine console finally arrives, but it's also a little more than that. It's also a wake-up call for game developers and for hardware manufacturers that Linux is becoming a power and that they need to be ready for it.

It's not a difficult feature to use and people shouldn't have a problem employing it, but this is more than it looks like. Microsoft's Windows is finally being challenged by an outsider, and Valve is the tip of the spear. Whether they will manage to move this giant out its trench remains to be seen, but the first steps have been taken.

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