It’s been tough to parse Alienware’s position on the Linux-based SteamOS. At E3 they told us that the Steam Machine will increase Linux gamers by “20, 30 fold, overnight”. But with the first Steam Machines delayed into 2015, they’ve upstaged their own Linux box with a Windows-based living room PC: the Alienware Alpha.
So who would win in a fight, Alienware? A living room PC running Windows, or the same PC running SteamOS?
“It depends on what you’re looking for; there’s advantages to both,” said Alienware general manager Frank Azor. “[With] the Linux version I do think you’re going to sacrifice a little bit of content.”
“Depending on what you’re playing that may or may not be a big deal for you,” Azor told PCGamesN at GamesCom. “What you gain [from the Steam Machine] is an OS that’s been designed from the ground up to be in your living room.”
That leaves a question mark over the Alpha. While Valve are invested in the future of SteamOS as a living room operating system, the scalability of the Alpha’s modified Windows is “really up to Microsoft”.
“Do the further iterations of Windows take into account this new form factor, this ecosystem and use-model?,” asked Azor. “I think that if it does, then the two platforms can live side by side with one another and customers will have a choice.”
The Alpha’s Windows backbone does grant it another advantage: its desktop mode. There’s nothing to stop owners running keyboard and mouse games, or non-Steam clients like Origin.
“If you select desktop you’ll basically see Windows 8,” said Azor. “You’ll be using your Alpha as a PC first and a console second.
“You can always go into Windows. We’re not telling you that there’s anything you can’t do on this box.”
The Alienware Alpha will cost 499 euro, and be out before Christmas. Do you think you’ll get one, or wait for the rise of the Machines?