Valve co-founder Gabe Newell knows a thing about Microsoft. After all, he initially founded Valve Software — makers of such mega-hits as the Half-Life, Portal and Left 4 Dead series, as well as the popular Steam digital delivery service — using the millions he made working for Microsoft for 13 years.
So when Gabe Newell says that he thinks Windows 8 is going to be apocalyptical for PC makers and cause OEMs to start fleeing the platform in droves, it’s worth paying attention. Especially since Valve’s Steam delivery service is putting increasing emphasis on Windows alternative OSes like Linux and, yes, the Mac.
Speaking at the Casual Connect videogame conference in Seattle, Newell said that the reason the company is bringing Steam to Linux has everything to do with “hedging” their bets against the coming “catastrope” of Windows 8.
“We want to make it as easy as possible for the 2,500 games on Steam to run on Linux as well. It’s a hedging strategy. I think Windows 8 is a catastrophe for everyone in the PC space,” said Newell. “I think we’ll lose some of the top-tier PC/OEMs, who will exit the market. I think margins will be destroyed for a bunch of people. If that’s true, then it will be good to have alternatives to hedge against that eventuality.”
Why is Newell so skeptical of Windows 8? For one, it abandons the desktop metaphor that Windows users have grown accustomed to over the past decades in favor of a Metro-based, touch-friendly UI. For another, Microsoft is introducing considerable fragmentation into Windows 8 by releasing it for both ARM and Intel-based computers, which means that apps that run on one can’t run on the other.
Newell also had some interesting things to say about the future of multitouch, which he thinks is a passing fad.
“We think touch is short-term. The mouse and keyboard were stable for 25 years, but I think touch will be stable for 10 years. Post-touch will be stable for a really long time, longer than 25 years,” said Newell.
What does post-touch input look like, according to Newell? One theory he suggests is controlling future devices with our tongues. I assume he means solutions like Siri, and not people licking their devices.