Valve's Gabe Newell calls Windows 8 a 'catastrophe'

July 26, 2012 // 12:18 p.m.

Tags: #gabe-newell #linux #linux-gaming #microsoft #pc-gaming #steam #steam-for-linux #valve #windows-8

Valve's Gabe Newell has finally revealed his reasons for porting his company's Steam digital distribution platform to Linux: Windows 8 is just that bad.

News that Steam is coming to Linux, along with Left 4 Dead 2 and other games from Valve, has left Linux fans jumping for joy and Windows users wondering why Valve isn't spending the money on Half-Life 3 instead. While some have pointed to the oft-rumoured Steam-powered Valve Box console as a possible reason, Newell has indicated that the move is both a nod to the users who have struggled for years running Valve games under the wine compatibility layer on Linux and also as a response to Microsoft's upcoming Windows 8 operating system.

In an interview with VentureBeat, the outspoken Newell suggested that taking Steam to Linux is a response to an increasingly closed infrastructure. 'Valve wouldn’t exist if it weren't for the PC. If people look at what they can accomplish when they can limit competitors' access to their platform, they say, "Wow, that’s really exciting." Even some of the people who have open platforms, like Microsoft, get really excited by the idea that Netflix has to pay them rent in order to be on the Internet. That’s not how we got here, and I don’t think that’s a very attractive future.

'So we're looking at the platform, and up until now we've been a free rider,[/i]' Newell continued. 'We've been able to benefit from everything that's gone into the PC and the internet. Now we have to start finding ways that we can continue to make sure there are open platforms. So, that involves a couple of different things. One, we’re trying to make sure that Linux thrives. So we're going to continue working with the Linux distribution guys, shipping Steam, shipping our games, and making it as easy as possible for anybody who's engaged with us — putting their games on Steam and getting those running on Linux, as well. It’s a hedging strategy.'

A more telling revelation, however, is Newell's response to Microsoft's touch-centric Windows 8 and its divisive Windows Phone-inspired Metro UI. 'I think that Windows 8 is kind of a catastrophe for everybody in the PC space,' Newell claimed. 'I think that we're going to lose some of the top-tier PC [original equipment manufacturers]. They'll exit the market. I think margins are going to be destroyed for a bunch of people. If that's true, it’s going to be a good idea to have alternatives to hedge against that eventuality.'

Newell is hardly the first to pour scorn on Windows 8, but his comments could cut the deepest - and with Croteam announcing the Serious Sam 3 will also be ported to Linux - Microsoft could have made the biggest misjudgement of the market since the launch of Microsoft Bob.

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