Wikipedia defines a cabal as a type of conspiracy where like-minded officials form an association to further the group’s shared cause. This is exactly what is happening: a group of software and hardware engineers have decided that GNU/Linux may be the road forward as Windows 8’s arrival looms. What is happening is inevitable: NOTHING lasts forever.
Is This the Beginning of the End?
The only thing that is certain in life is change. People change. Conditions change. Monopolies change. Over the past two decade or so, people have slowly come to accept alternatives. In late 1995, Dish Networks launched its first satellite, the EchoStar I. In doing so, it ushered in an age where the cable industry would have to deal with some very serious competition. About a year earlier, Sony introduced the original Playstation. This device would revolutionize gaming by adding a CD-ROM drive to a gaming console. This innovation allowed the graphics on gaming consoles to rival that in pc gaming for the first time. Over the next few years, console gaming stole a lot of pc gaming’s thunder. However, pc gaming never truly died. Now, it appears that it may be about to have its most radical transformation: from a Windows-based platform to a GNU/Linux-based one.
Why is this happening? One word: control.
Apple’s Success Has everyone Wanting a Controlled Marketplace
Whether you like their tactics or not, Apple has mastered the art of profiting from a controlled marketplace. PC game developers enjoyed more than two decades of relative autonomy, but Apple’s success seems to be inspiring Microsoft to follow suit. To me, it appears that Microsoft’s goal with Windows 8 is to replicate the same kind of controlled marketplace that Apple enjoys. If game developers want to create games for Windows 8, they will pay a significant share of their profits as a “toll” for access to the market. Is this necessarily bad? Perhaps, perhaps not. Only time will tell. But it seems that the openness of GNU/Linux is becoming very attractive to PC game developers as they see the Windows 8 market coming.
I think that pc gaming may come to be dominated by GNU/Linux over the next few years. A lot of people will still play games on consoles such as the XBox and Playstation. I believe that Windows gaming market share will start to drop as soon as Windows 8 arrives, and it will mirror the drop in Internet Explorer’s market share over the last few years. I don’t think that Windows 8 will be a catastrophe for Microsoft, but I do believe that it may mark the beginning of a slow decline in Windows’ market share.
The EggHead Conspiracy
Valve’s CEO, Gabe Newell, may just have the influence necessary to get OEMs, graphics cards designers, video gamers, and other essential players on the same page. If he can guide this cabal, it will be one of the most impressive transitions in the history of computer technology. GNU/Linux is a perfect fit for the gaming community because most gamers tend to be tinkerers who want to understand how the internals of things work. One thing is for sure: once a conspiracy starts, it is almost impossible to stop its progress.
I don’t know for sure how Windows 8 will be received. I’ve watched Youtube videos where people had a hard time using it, and I’ve seen people who absolutely love it. These things are extremely hard to predict. Will gamers accept gaming on GNU/Linux pcs? If the transition is done correctly, they should not be able to tell any difference.
Thank you for reading The Linux Week in Review 43. I look forward to seeing you in the next edition!