Valve’s Gabe Newell: Windows 8 Is Going To Be A “Catastrophe”

Valve’s Gabe Newell: Windows 8 Is Going To Be A “Catastrophe”

Staring down the apocalypse.

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.

  • Al Enochs

    Windows 8 is a nightmare. I am not going anywhere near that train wreck.

  • gprado300

    you are an idiot.. touch is the future..

  • yappykan

    Some people are such automatons. Windows 8 is not that far from Windows 7 in regards to functionality. So they skinned the Start Menu. Outside of that everything is better about the new OS. Since you didn’t take the time to actually use it you make senseless comments like that one you just did. Train wreck?

    Mountain Lion is what? Evolutionary? Give me a break. I am using a MBP now and upgraded it. I am sorry whats the big deal? a few small updates that should have been done a year ago and thats about it.

  • Shane Bryson

    Some people are such automatons. Windows 8 is not that far from Windows 7 in regards to functionality. So they skinned the Start Menu. Outside of that everything is better about the new OS. Since you didn’t take the time to actually use it you make senseless comments like that one you just did. Train wreck?

    Mountain Lion is what? Evolutionary? Give me a break. I am using a MBP now and upgraded it. I am sorry whats the big deal? a few small updates that should have been done a year ago and thats about it.

    I have used Windows 8 and whether the person you are replying to is informed or not, they are correct. Windows 8 is indeed a train wreck. It is MUCH more than a skin. It’s fictionality isn’t really at all like Windows 7. In an attempt to make things more uniform from Windows Phone 7 to Windows 8, they have ensured everything became complicated on the user end. This shouldn’t be surprising. It seems to be Microsoft’s business model. It seems since XP, Windows just gets harder and harder to use.

  • Deusdictum

    I think Newell talks out of his ass.

  • ErinsDad

    Windows F-Ups are more certain than gravity. This prediction is not exactly a sign of brilliance.

  • Jason Farrell

    Claiming a person who states “The mouse and keyboard were stable for 25 years…” and that touch is merely a fad even has credibility in this discussion is ridiculious. There were plenty of people who thought the iPhone would flop becasue it did something different from the norm. How is Windows 8 any different? Other than “because its from Microsoft”.

    Look, having used Windows 8, I admit its a change, but I think that change is more impactful to the power user than the typical user. Your typical user wil figure out how to get to desktop mode and stay there.

    Microsoft has been making changes to the Windows OS for 10yrs and has finally arrived at a change that, in my opinion, has been a long time coming. This change MUST happen for Windows (and Microsoft) to continue to be relevant in the industry. People say, why not leave the desktop experience alone? If you do that, you are doing nothing more than copying Apple, and that isnt going to help you maintain your dominance in the OS world. You need to make a change. We can all speculate on where things from here, but I really do not believe it will be a “catastrophe”. It wont be an iPhone success, I will say that much.

  • Grumpynewgirl

    Yes, the history of Microsoft is full of examples, where they come up with a great big idea, only to completey and utterly destroy it in the execution. Think back, way back: First came Cosmic Dust, Dinosaurs, Jesus, Typewriters, then DOS. Now DOS worked pretty well when it reached version 6.22. Then came Windows 1, 2, 3 with lots of bugs… years went by to get to a somewhat stable model with Windows 3.11.

    Then, whammo, the mass media “start me up” attack with Windows 95, which turned out to be a “horror story” for anyone who ever tried to upgrade from Windows 3.11 to Windows 95. Extremely miserable execution. It took another 3 years to wait for Windows 98, SP2 to get something that worked on a new computer. Tons of people, or at least me, had to go back to DOS or Windows 3.11 to get a “a computer that worked”. MS still owes me $100 bucks from that time. Useless OS.
    Upgrading from any other version still remains “mega-iffy”. Lesson I learned: Never believe Microsoft, when they say you could “upgrade” from one Windows version to the next!

    Then Windows 2000 with it’s own set of problems. Windows NT, morphing painfully slow into a Windows XP that worked when SP3 came out. All of this was really bad for small business owners trying to use Windows in a business.

    When Windows Vista came out, I completely skipped it, buwaah hahaha!!, and a good thing too, because they had learned zero and zilch from prior “complete re-writes”, and I saved myself weeks and weeks of hassle.
    I am still shying away from Windows 7, and Windows 8, from what I hear, is basically Microsoft’s way of telling business clients to please just go away, NOW!
    Plus older people are basically given the shaft, because Microsoft does not like older people, who want “predictable, reasonable, legible, understandable, big print, big mouse, big keyboard computing”. Why the heck do you think there are “big calculators & big remotes” available at Walgreens or Walmart? Eh?
    Most touchpads, mousepads, etc. are not workable for older people. If you are the least bit shaky with your hands, if you got any kind of disability such as Alzheimers, Parkinsons, ADHD, then Microsoft programs are not designed for you. This is a problem, if you understand the concept of “demographics”. Do we have take up a collection to get Steve Ballmer a hearing aid? Because, the guy does not or cannot listen, at all!

    I ask: Is it true that Windows 8 does not let you have two (2) (yeah, count them, two) windows open at a time? And that it is no longer possible to copy and paste (CTRL-C and CTRL-V) something from one window to the other? If that’s the case, then this makes windows 77% less useful. Or was that 93% less useful. Check those stats.

    If that is really true, then Microsoft should be sued for implying in the name “Windows 8″ that it was delivering “more than one window” at a time. It should be publicly shamed into renaming it “Just one Window, version 8″.
    I for one do not want my desktop to work like a stupid smart phone. I want to have a choice in the matter. I want my interface to be how I like it.

    Is Microsoft really such a “poor company” that supporting “a desktop, a laptop and a smart phone” AT THE SAME TIME is becoming impossible?
    True, some people, i.e. those who like facebook, and smart phone apps, and are social butterflies with the attention span of a gnat, might like Windows 8. People who think it is oh so cool to watch a movie on a tiny phone. But, that’s not me. That’s not a lot of other people.

    Other weird stuff happening in the mean-time: The “.Net Passport”. Splendid idea that didn’t work. Glad it’s gone. I stayed away from “Zune”, because having been burned so many times, what were the odds that this would work as advertised? The “Microsoft Office Ribbon” that tried to “hide everything useful by putting indecipherable icons in your way ? Rule#1 for MS: If an icon is meaningless, use the english language to spell it out! Gaaah!
    The nutty way Xbox360 drove fathers insane, because MS would not provide help in configuring the “IP address”, the NAT thing, the “demilitarized zone” thing, etc.

    So, I gave you a topic, so go ahead, and discuss how you cannot possibly agree to another person’s viewpoint. Because then you might not be, uhm, cooool enough…

    • Deon Van der Westhuizen

      You are 100% right.

  • Buccaneer Dan

    The dissing of Windows 8 by Newell is totally self serving (although I am not a Windows 8 fan). Valve is getting ready to launch thier own custom OS based on Linux (SteamOS, still in beta) and machines with the new OS and a custom controller called Steam Boxes.

    So Newell´s view of Windows in any flavor should be taken with a grain of salt. This has all the weight of Tim Cook saying Windows sucks.

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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