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Windows 8 growing on Steam, Linux barely moves

Despite the push Valve have been making the past year to bring gaming to Linux, the release of penguin-friendly games has done little to grow the Linux audience on Steam. Meanwhile, Microsoft’s Windows 8 OS is running on more than 12% of Steam users machines.

The results from April’s Steam survey tell an interesting story, while Windows 7 is remains the dominant OS, making up about 70% of the machines running Steam, the number of Windows 8 users is on the rise. In the last month alone, the number of Windows 8 users has increased by almost 1%. That sounds pretty insignificant but considering there are 50 million registered Steam accounts and around 4.5 million daily users 1% accounts for a significant number of gamers. Frustratingly, Valve don’t say how many people take part in the survey (you need to opt in to have your computer polled) but even if we treat this information cautiously we can at least take away that the number of people adopting Windows 8 is far from insubstantial.

Even today Microsoft announced that they've sold more than 100 million Windows 8 licenses.

Conversely, Linux ain’t doing so good. Despite the welcoming hand Valve have extended to Linux users - creating a Linux version of their Steam client, porting their back catalogue to the open source OS, and adding more Linux games to their library every week - the number of machines running versions of Linux has shrunk in the last month. And, it was not a large audience to begin with, only accounting for a little more than a single per cent.

Valve have said numerous times in the past that they take their data collection seriously and will often let the numbers speak for themselves. If the user base remains small Valve may put fewer resources into Linux development. Of course, if the Gabe Cube, when it eventually launches, runs Linux natively I imagine we’ll see a spike in those numbers.

 

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Shriven's picture
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Not growing quick enough for Microsoft it seems. Sell your Shares people!

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I think the problem of which linux distribution to choose also doesn't help. I've played arround with Linux numerous times and I tried to switch over again following the Steam Linux launch. What I found was that the latest version of Ubuntu that Valve saw fit to recommend was absolutely horrible right from the off and once I'd installed up to date graphics card drivers large parts of the GUI stopped working. For some reason large parts of the GUI are Unity based and Unity didn't like the AMD drivers. The most helpful suggestion I got from Googling for solutions was to try a different distribution that didn't use that GUI. I wasn't exactly living the Linux dream by that point and so I gave up and went back to Windows and played a game for the rest of the day and I've still yet to build up the energy to try again.

I think a large part of the problem is how dilibrately inaccessible Ubuntu Linux is. If you approach it from the GUI then the options are nerfed to hell. You can do next to nothing without diving into the command prompt and so when you start using it casually it doesn't feel like you're gaining more control over your OS, it feels like you're giving up a large chunk of the powers you used to have in Windows. It feels dumbed down in the extreme. Of course if you have the patiance to go to the command prompt and type SUDO a thousand times then you can get all your powers back and then some but unless you're a true Linux geek that is never going to be a fun thing to do.

Really Windows is a dog and Linux is a cat. Windows is big and dumb but almost anyone can train it to fetch their slippers. Linux on the other hand is intelligent and conceptually nicer but once you get over the soft fur you realise that if you try to make it do something it doesn't want to then unless you're a specialist cat trainer the net result will be a lot of scratches.

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