Valve is certainly kicking up a stink about Windows 8 these days…
Gabe Newell, has gone on record to say “Windows 8 is a catastrophe for everyone in the PC space.”
This is a bold statement, even though it is not the only one of its kind. There are plenty of people predicting the failure of Windows 8.
Over at the Valve Blog, they have posted benchmarks regarding Left for Dead 2 running under Linux (Note: Linux 32-bit), in comparison to Windows 7. According to the blog post by the Valve Linux Team, with some tweaking (Putting it simply), they managed to achieve 315fps on Linux using OpenGL compared to 270.6 in Windows using Direct3D.
After this work, Left 4 Dead 2 is running at 315 FPS on Linux. That the Linux version runs faster than the Windows version (270.6) seems a little counter-intuitive, given the greater amount of time we have spent on the Windows version. However, it does speak to the underlying efficiency of the kernel and OpenGL. Interestingly, in the process of working with hardware vendors we also sped up the OpenGL implementation on Windows. Left 4 Dead 2 is now running at 303.4 FPS with that configuration.
I find this interesting, especially as they later got it to run faster in Windows using OpenGL. I’ve personally toyed with Linux quite a few times for the purposes of my main workstation, but I’ve always eventually returned to Windows because I like playing games… And because Valve’s Steam runs on Windows (As well as many of the games it distributes).
Now, conversely, I know Valve has had a Mac client out for some time and been playing with a Linux client also but the main point to remember is that many game developers still develop exclusively for Windows regardless of if Valve (Or Gabe) thinks that is a good or a bad thing.
This is a very important point to remember, because it is all well and good Valve porting all their games to Linux (Pending their anticipated OS-Apocalype of Windows 8), but Steam is still just a delivery platform when you take Valve games out of the equation.
Will other devs move to Linux following Valve’s example?
It could be said that Linux is awaiting that ‘critical mass’ product, or ‘killer app’ just like the Xbox has Halo and the Playstation 3 has Gran Turismo. It’s vital that Valve are placing their platform as that role, potentially putting themselves as the front runner to a new market.
They are also set to make a ton of money (From me probably also) if this takes off…
Its also critically important to remember that Linux controls a global market share of 2%, which you can see here.
This is important for many reasons, but the most important ones being that Windows has over 90% because Microsoft meticulously maintains an ecosystem for Windows/Office, from trained professionals to software tools and developer relations. There is a lot of hand-holding when it comes to Microsoft, because it’s in their best interests to hold onto that 90%.
I’ve heard people shout at me about “What about Apache?!” or “Linux is running most of the web servers in the world!”, which I don’t dispute or wish to attempt to disprove, but the point remains that Microsoft servers run a hell of a lot more things than web servers (I understand that so does Linux). My point is that there is an installed, entrenched, trained and invested Microsoft world out there and even though I can see there being a way out of the Microsoft world, I still doubt it will happen.