Steam's game streaming breathes new life into ancient computers

Today in Open Source: Even older computers can play new games thanks to Steam's game streaming. Plus: UK government dumps Microsoft Office, and LibreOffice 4.2 released

Steam beta game streaming and older computers

PC World explores the benefits of Steam's beta game streaming to ancient computers that can now be used for gaming.

Last night I played Assassin's Creed IV on a 2006 MacBook—the cheap, white plastic kind. It's a machine with a 1.83GHz processor and 4GB of RAM, and it might as well have no graphics card at all. It's a machine that was long ago relegated to backup status, good for word processing and Web surfing, and little else.

And yet I ran, swam, and sailed across the Caribbean on this ancient MacBook, as sunshine played over a tumbling ocean of physics models that stretched out to a horizon drawn as far as my eyes could see. Here was this ghost of a once-proud machine—the battery doesn't even charge anymore—running one of last year's most graphically intense games.

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Steam Beta Game Streaming
Image credit: PC World

Valve is doing some amazing things with SteamOS and Steam Machines, and this game streaming beta is yet another great innovation. How many of us have older computers sitting around that we've mostly written off for minor tasks? But with Steam's game streaming those older computers suddenly have new life and purpose.

The other great thing about this is that it cuts across operating systems. The author had Assassin's Creed IV running on a high-end gaming PC that streamed it to an ancient Macbook. The operating system on the Macbook really didn't matter since the game was already running on the PC. This broadens the appeal of Steam-based games since they can be played on pretty much any computer the gamer owns, regardless of operating system or hardware.

As the author notes, Steam's game streaming isn't perfect. There are still latency issues with some games. But the fact that he was able to play games at all on a decrepit 2006 Macbook is simply amazing. Valve deserves some serious praise for making this possible, and I suspect we'll see Steam's game streaming getting better and better as it progresses from beta to final release.

UK government plans to phase out Microsoft Office

Techie News is reporting that the government of the UK plans to dump Microsoft Office in favor of open source software.

According to reports around £200 million is being spent on Microsoft Office alone since 2010. Cabinet Minister Francis Maude is planning a significant reduction by switching to free open source software to end UK Government’s dependency on proprietary software.

The cabinet minister called for usage of “great range” of software by the staff in the event. For this, document formats are to be standardized across Whitehall, breaking the “oligopoly” of IT suppliers.

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