Why is Alienware launching a Steam Machine with Windows instead of SteamOS?

In today's open source roundup: Alienware's Alpha Steam Machine will launch with Windows 8.1, not SteamOS. Plus: HP moves away from Windows and Microsoft, and a review of OpenMandriva Lx 2014

Valve's decision to delay the release of its Steam Machines has resulted in a strange move by Alienware. Instead of waiting for SteamOS, Alienware will launch its Steam Machine device with Windows 8.1 and target it to consumers as a living room PC.

According to the Washington Post:

The Dell gaming division Alienware--which announced it was building a SteamOS-based system in January--said this week at the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, that it's on track to launch its "Steam Machine" by this holiday season, priced at $549. But here's the hitch for Valve: Alienware's product, called "The Alpha," will come with a Xbox 360 controller and Microsoft's Windows 8.1 operating system--not SteamOS.

While not a complete disaster for Valve--the new machine will include instructions on how to install the beta version of SteamOS--it certainly seems like a setback: Alienware is the highest profile partner Valve was able to recruit for its open platform project -- and even though by all accounts Alienware is still on board running SteamOS on its machines down the line, Alienware's willingness to take on the living room market with an operating system Valve CEO Gabe Newell once called a "catastrophe" is pretty bad optics.

More at the Washington Post
Alienware Launches Steam Machine With Windows 8.1
Image credit: The Washington Post

While I can understand the financial difficulties inherent in waiting for a final release of SteamOS, I'm not sure that this is such a great idea on Alienware's part. Is there really a market for this kind of device based on Windows? It seems to me that SteamOS was the big attraction for users who might buy a Steam Machine. I can't really see the appeal of a Windows-based Steam Machine.

Perhaps I'm wrong and Alienware will have a big success on its hands with The Alpha. But my guess is that it will probably fade away into almost total irrelevance very quickly once gamers realize that they're basically just buying a Windows gaming device with the same old drawbacks and headaches as a regular Windows PC.

HP moves away from Windows and Microsoft

Softpedia has an intriguing article about HP apparently changing its direction by moving away from Microsoft and Windows.

According to Softpedia:

HP CEO Meg Whitman revealed at her annual customer conference this week that the company is working on a brand new device called “The Machine” which would comprise several new technologies, such as a new type of memory, but would also run a brand new operating system.

And no, we're not talking about Windows 9, but about a completely new OS that will be developed by HP itself, which is clearly just another move to help the company detach from the Microsoft partnership.

More at Softpedia

What an interesting move by Hewlett Packard, it's another indication of Microsoft's grip on industry loosening significantly. Between things like this and Microsoft's failures in mobile, it's very clear that the old days of Microsoft's domination of computing are way, way behind us.

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