Impending Windows 8 'catastrophe' behind $3bn game maker’s shift
The availability of the Steam platform will make the latest games available on the open source operating system for the first time – making Linux a potentially viable migration option for ordinary consumers.
The shift by the company, valued by Forbes at $3bn (£1.9bn), is all the more significant because co-founder and chief executive Gabe Newell spent 13 years at Microsoft.
"The big problem that is holding back Linux is games. People don't realise how critical games are in driving consumer purchasing behaviour," said Newell. "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."
Part of the reason for the move is the potentially disruptive effect of Windows 8 when it is released in October. "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.
For many software vendors, the Windows Store that will be built into Windows 8 represents a potent threat to their livelihood. It will give Microsoft a direct link to software-buying purchasers for the first time. Microsoft is believed to be demanding a 30 per cent commission from developers wishing to sell their software in the Windows Store.