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Microsoft Windows Hardware Games

Windows 10 App For Xbox One Could Render Steam Machines Useless 170

SlappingOysters writes: The release of Windows 10 has brought with it the Xbox app -- a portal through which you can stream anything happening on your Xbox One to your Surface or desktop. Finder is reporting that the love will go the other way, too, with a PC app coming to the Xbox One allowing you to stream your desktop to your console. But where does this leave the coming Steam Machines? This analysis shows how such an app could undermine the Steam Machines' market position.
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Windows 10 App For Xbox One Could Render Steam Machines Useless

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  • Watch Out! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kiaser Zohsay ( 20134 ) on Thursday July 30, 2015 @08:57AM (#50213511)

    Those vapors could be bad for you.

    • by DrYak ( 748999 ) on Thursday July 30, 2015 @09:54AM (#50213851) Homepage

      Somebody at Microsoft trying to breed a FUD strategy ("Don't buy SteamBoxes now, there's better 'planned in Microsoft's pipeline', it's gonna be much better: you'll see once it's there (eventually) you won't regret this, you're going to like it !).

      Hmm..... I'm sure I've heard such stratgies before....
      Where did it come from last time? Oh, yeah, from microsoft!

    • Yeah...the whole premise of the summary is built on a comparison between dissimilar products intended for different uses.

      If what you're interested in is streaming content, including games, from a PC to the TV, then Valve lets you stream to another PC on the network for free, or else offers the Steam Link for $50 if you don't have an old PC laying around. Which, as you said, is significantly cheaper than the cost of an Xbox One. Plus, all of Valve's stuff works across platforms, rather than being locked into

  • No one has gotten streaming one machine to another to work anywhere near as well as just running on native hardware.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 30, 2015 @09:14AM (#50213609)

      Maybe not as well as running it natively, but they've definitely got it working well enough. I've already played games using Steam streaming from one computer to another. It absolutely works and the latency is nowhere near as bad as you'd think.

      The problem comes with playing a game on a device with a totally inappropriate input system. They already make gaming laptops but they suck for gaming because the laptop form factor sucks for gaming. Sony offers PS4 streaming to the Vita and that sucks because the Vita sucks. Streaming PC games to the Xbox One is going to require hooking up a keyboard and mouse to really work well.

      So streaming works - but is almost always worthless because generally if you have a "gaming computer" you're going to want to use it directly over any other device even if streaming were perfect. I can't imagine trying to game on one of those lousy Surface tablet things.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Steam's streaming is good enough that I used it to play GTA V Online from my Linux computer. It might have put me in a disadvantage in firefights against other players, but then again, I could just be using that as an excuse to justify how bad I am at shooter games. I suspect it's the later.

      • The problem comes with playing a game on a device with a totally inappropriate input system. They already make gaming laptops but they suck for gaming because the laptop form factor sucks for gaming.

        This. Last month I bought Starcraft 2 for my laptop. Game runs fine, but I just can't use the laptops touchpad/keyboard to access my units anywhere near fast enough to be successful. Back in Starcraft 1 days I was a demon at it.

      • Maybe not as well as running it natively, but they've definitely got it working well enough. I've already played games using Steam streaming from one computer to another. It absolutely works and the latency is nowhere near as bad as you'd think.

        The problem comes with playing a game on a device with a totally inappropriate input system. They already make gaming laptops but they suck for gaming because the laptop form factor sucks for gaming. Sony offers PS4 streaming to the Vita and that sucks because the Vita sucks. Streaming PC games to the Xbox One is going to require hooking up a keyboard and mouse to really work well.

        So streaming works - but is almost always worthless because generally if you have a "gaming computer" you're going to want to use it directly over any other device even if streaming were perfect. I can't imagine trying to game on one of those lousy Surface tablet things.

        Considering you have to hook up a keyboard and mouse and monitor to a desktop PC, I kind of fail to see the difference. It is all just about hooking up a computer (desktop box, laptop, xbox) to the appropriate I/O devices for your play style. Now if we want to talk processing power, that is a whole other topic.

      • Couch multiplayer (Score:4, Interesting)

        by tepples ( 727027 ) <.tepples. .at. .gmail.com.> on Thursday July 30, 2015 @10:37AM (#50214165) Homepage Journal

        generally if you have a "gaming computer" you're going to want to use it directly over any other device even if streaming were perfect.

        True for single-player or online play, not so much if the game supports local multiplayer. At this point, you'd want to either A. put your gaming PC in the living room or B. stream the game from your gaming PC to the device connected to the TV. Otherwise, you're all stuck crowding around a desk.

    • Bullshit. I regularly stream my games machine to a MacBook Air plugged into a 55" TV at 1080p. Gets a solid 60 fps with low latency over *wifi*. Easy enough to play gta5 and project cars with an old ds3. The technology is here now and it works fine. Lying on the sofa with a Bluetooth trackpad for eu4 works great as well, but is far less demanding.

    • also in news: my hard drive is faster that my internet connection.

  • Useless? (Score:5, Informative)

    by nsre ( 1880644 ) on Thursday July 30, 2015 @09:03AM (#50213547)

    They probably mean redundant. Having an alternative doesn't make something useless.

  • Steam Link (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Luthair ( 847766 ) on Thursday July 30, 2015 @09:04AM (#50213553)

    is only what, $50 compared to $350 for an Xbox One? If you're looking for PC -> TV streaming that will be far more economical than buying an Xbox.

    Steam Boxes have always had questionable value, they aren't going to be as efficient as consoles and do you really want that gaming PC in your living room?

    • do you really want that gaming PC in your living room?

      Yep. No console can drive my 4k TV.

      • by Luthair ( 847766 )
        A PC that drives 4k is going to be hot and probably louder than most people would like in their living room.
        • Have you ever owned an XBOX? Those things get loud.
      • Nvidia Shield does 4k streaming. I have a shield and love it (though only have a 1080p TV). I would rather have a powerful PC downstairs that I can then stream cheaply upstairs as well.
        • Whatever floats your boat, but personally I think the whole streaming fad is a bit overblown. I have a slightly older PC in my office compared to the one in the living room (still no slouch) with Steam running on both. Steam has had streaming between PCs for a while now, but every time I try it (either direction) the quality is severely reduced and things just get laggy. Maybe for casual games it's fine.
          • I played a good bit of Arkham Asylum by streaming it from the PC in my office to my laptop in the family room. There was a definite reduction in video quality, but I never had any serious problems with lag. Some was noticeable, but it wasn't that bad, and I really stopped paying attention after a couple of minutes. Obviously, anything that really relies on millisecond timing will be impacted (fighting games, online FPS, and so on), but I was impressed with the experience overall.
        • by Luthair ( 847766 )
          The Shield also costs about as much as an XboxOne and game streaming only (AFAIK) works with systems using nvidia GPUs. If you don't intend to play Android games on the shield its a pretty clear choice to go for the Steam Link (pending reviews of course).
          • I would agree with this. Steam machine may be awesome. I just am not sure how much faith I have in Valve at producing hardware. For the Shield, at this point Android TV is a bit lackluster... I haven't been that excited with it, but the streaming has been great. I can also emulate my older NES, SNES, N64 etc. which is pretty awesome.
      • Yep. No console can drive my 4k TV.

        http://shield.nvidia.com/andro... [nvidia.com]

    • Consoles are basically just PC's in a special box running special software.
      • Consoles are basically just PC's in a special box running special software.

        and special hardware. that's what allows a console made 10 years ago with zero upgrades to still play high-end games. try that with a 10 year old PC.

        • Consoles aren't magic. The reason they can play games 10 years after they were made, is because people take a lot of time and effort to make sure their games can still run on those 10 year old machines. It has nothing to do with the hardware itself.

          Furthermore, if there were magic future proof hardware, they would just put that in PCs as well.

          Also, I can play high end games on a 10 year old PC. I just need to turn down all the graphics settings, which is exactly what the version of games running on old c

          • consoles have very custom hardware. i really can't listen to you if you are going to sit here and tell me they are "just PCs". they aren't. go do some reading. nothing could be further from the truth.

            Furthermore, if there were magic future proof hardware, they would just put that in PCs as well.

            the difference? consoles make money from people buying games. the console itself is a loss which is why they future proof them. if they had to R&D new consoles every two years they'd never make a profit. with PCs, the vendors make money from selling you hardware. they have zero interest in future proofing t

            • consoles have very custom hardware. i really can't listen to you if you are going to sit here and tell me they are "just PCs". they aren't. go do some reading. nothing could be further from the truth.

              Custom != completely different. Both xbone and ps4 are using AMD jaguar APUs.

              Also I said they are *basically* just PCs, meaning the basics of the architecture (e.g. instruction set, etc) are the same as a PC (as opposed to a older console like an NES or genesis, which were not like PCs at all).

              the difference? consoles make money from people buying games. the console itself is a loss which is why they future proof them. if they had to R&D new consoles every two years they'd never make a profit. with PCs, the vendors make money from selling you hardware. they have zero interest in future proofing their designs.

              The fact that some consoles are incidentally sold at a loss, does not make them magically have hardware that is from 10 years in the future.

              Xbox 360 outperforms your 10 year old PC in gaming. period

              The xbox 360 came out in 2005 and the xbox one came out in 2013. Would an x

      • by Luthair ( 847766 )

        Except that they have a lower level API and as they are a single hardware target games can be heavily optimized, Steam Boxes do not have these advantages thus need more powerful hardware for the same result. Nor do they have a manufacturer willing to have little profit or a loss on the hardware in order to get them in the hands of consumers.

        For some reason people expected both games optimized for Steam Boxes as well as cheap hardware, neither of which were ever going to be a reality.

        • Except that they have a lower level API and as they are a single hardware target games can be heavily optimized

          The levels exposed to developers for PCs and consoles are the same. You can write PC games in intel assembly and opengl calls, it's usually just not worth the man hours to get slightly better performance when PC hardware is so cheap.

          The fact that many game companies choose to write software at this low level for game consoles is not indicative of a feature that is missing from PCs, it's just a slightly different economic situation, and even that is changing as more and more games come out on multiple diffe

  • App store lockdown (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 30, 2015 @09:07AM (#50213575)

    No, the whole point of Steam Machines is so that Steam can survive Windows. If the best streaming experience for Steam winds up being through Xbox One, I don't think they will care all that much. Steam Machines exist primarily because Windows 8 onward aren't a level playing field. Applications sold through Windows Store get special APIs (like a UI toolkit that isn't a horribly bad abomination) that non-Store apps aren't allowed to use. And Steam can't sell applications using the Windows Store APIs since those kinds of applications are installed by the TrustedInstaller account, which has privileges above and beyond normal administrative accounts in Windows. I have seen no indication that this situation has changed in version 10.

    • by ADRA ( 37398 )

      Which precicely nobody I've ever met cares about. When people talk about games on Windows, they're talking about Steam, battle.net, possibly origin, or some standalone like LOL. What they don't talk about is Microsoft, Windows store yadda yadda.

      If anything, a heavy handed app-store approach would only speed the vast exodus from native platform apps (at least from MS platforms anyways).

    • those kinds of applications are installed by the TrustedInstaller account, which has privileges above and beyond normal administrative accounts in Windows. I have seen no indication that this situation has changed in version 10.

      I imagine you haven't seen any indication since you probably never bothered looking, spending 2 seconds googling or even care.
      http://cdn.nirmaltv.com/images... [nirmaltv.com]

  • Will. If I wanted to stream PC games to another box and I had the choice between streaming to a box that plays exactly those games and nothing more (a steam machine) or plays all those games and some console exclusive games (an XBone,) I'd go with the latter every time.

    As is my gaming desktop is already hooked up to my TV so I'm not in the market for either, but if I were it would be a no-brainer, especially if they're around the same price or the XBone is cheaper.

  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Thursday July 30, 2015 @09:15AM (#50213623) Homepage
    Steam machines were predicated on a functional SteamOS, which has spent a year in beta. barring that, Valves pet project of running steam on linux ran arground when AMD graphics drivers for linux were revealed to be completely useless. nvidias blob seemed to work well but Valves blockbuster titles on linux remain seriously limited when compared to their Windows ecosystem. maybe this windows 10 feature will be enough to spur additional development resources into the platform, instead of just treading water in the linux pool.

    That having been said, microsofts sharing technology isnt about to kill Valves distribution model. Valve distributes titles like Dont Starve and other inexpensive, very fun indie games to a multitude of platforms that are not consoles. MS is also banking on a large assumption that PC gamers and console gamers are inextricably intertwined...the "pc gamer master race" meme is enough to think otherwise. Windows 10 is a free upgrade, but if you're already a steam gamer the games still run. if you're a console gamer, an upgrade to windows 10 might not be in your wheelhouse if youre an ardent call of duty madden or fifa enthusiast (that PC might be ancient.)

    Finally, Redmonds XBox is the revenue jumper cable that keeps cringe-worthy projects like phone and surface alive. Its not something thats going to find cross-platform marketshare outside of their usual blockbuster exclusives. console gamers and windows 10 gamers already share titles by virtue of Microsofts initiative to port their big titles between platforms and in some cases those platforms offer enormous advantages that the other does not. Playing xbox from a PC means, for example, some titles lose half their framerate or adopt other console-specific eccentricities the player might not want.
    • Redmonds XBox is the revenue jumper cable that keeps cringe-worthy projects like phone and surface alive

      Surface? Time to catch up. While everyone was busy ridiculing Surface's failure, Surface has become a $4B a year product for Microsoft with double digit quarter to quarter growth. That's admittedly about 1/4 of ipad's sales but that's also prior to more affordable devices like the surface 3 launching to compete in the Ipad's bread and butter $400-$500 price range.

  • by nine-times ( 778537 ) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Thursday July 30, 2015 @09:20AM (#50213657) Homepage

    I'm not sure I understand why this would make steam machines useless. The main value of a steam machine, as I see it, is that it allows you to have the convenience of a console in what is essentially a generic gaming PC. That is, it has a controller and a GUI aimed at connecting it to a TV and not using a keyboard or mouse, but it's not a locked-down console. It's just generic hardware that will play all of your PC games, and those games don't become obsolete and unplayable when you upgrade to the next generation.

    The article says:

    if you can use your Xbox One to play your PC on your TV, then your Xbox One can use Steam and effectively become a Steam Machine.

    So what they're saying is, if you have a PC running Steam (which is really all a "Steam Machine" is) and an XBox One, then it's kind of the same as having a Steam Machine. Yes, it is... because you're starting with the scenario where you have a Steam machine. It's like saying, "There's no reason to buy a car, since if I already own a car and I buy a bicycle, it's like owning a car!"

    Look, you shouldn't assume that I want an XBox. I can get a PC with better graphics and avoid being locked into Microsoft's ecosystem. I can install game mods, my games don't all go unnecessarily obsolete with every new generation of PC, Steam often has very good sales, Steam doesn't make me pay a monthly subscription for online services, and I can use that PC for other things if I like. To me, the only thing that would want me to buy a console at this point is if there were an exclusive game that I really wanted to play, and I've found that I can live without it. I don't want an XBox, so it doesn't make sense to me to say, "If you buy a Steam machine and an XBox, then it's like having a Steam machine!" I'll just buy a Steam machine, thank you, even if it's not a branded "Steam Machine".

    • Well, it does make sense to avoid redundant hardware, i.e. using the power and platform capabilities of an otherwise at that time unused desktop-PC to play in another area of the house. Graphics cards aren't cheap.

      I'd personally like more of an HDMI-over-Ethernet kind of solution for that, however: http://www.tested.com/forums/h... [tested.com]
      According to one poster in the link above, the latency is about 30ms.

      • Buying an XBox would still be redundant hardware, for the most part (excluding exclusive games). Also, at least for me, my office computer and my gaming PC aren't really redundant. For my office/productivity use, I'm content with an older computer with an integrated graphics chipset. It's not a gaming PC, but it's fast enough to open web pages.

        • Buying an XBox would still be redundant hardware

          You forgot a little bit of argumentation there.
          Let me do the same: No, it wouldn't.

          Also, at least for me ...

          Your personal situation is irrelevant. There are plenty of massively powered existing PCs not hooked up to the living room TV. You can't dismiss (or at least haven't dismissed) the point that that power were to go unused if gaming took place in the living room without utilizing some streaming or remote display kind of solution.

          Simple question: suppose you have some awesome 8-way SLI/Crossfire monster of a gaming PC, do not wa

          • Let me do the same: No, it wouldn't.

            Yes, it would. Gee, this is fun. Now your turn.

            There are plenty of massively powered existing PCs not hooked up to the living room TV

            And there are plenty that are. And there are plenty of people who don't hook it up to the TV because they don't want to. And there are plenty of people who buy more than one computer, understanding that it's "redundant hardware", because that's what they want to do. In fact, that's what you're doing if you buy an XBox when you already have a good gaming PC anyway.

            And why are you getting butthurt because I don't want to buy an XBox?

            suppose you have some awesome ... gaming PC, do not want to put it in the living room, want to use [it] ... in to your living room. How do you propose solving this conundrum in the easiest and cheapest manner?

            Well the easiest and che

            • You are completely missing the point.

              If you argue that something is useless or inferior to an alternative, then you need to prove that it is that for everybody, not just for some people.

              Calling people whiny bitches is not going to change their purchasing behavior. I'm arguing that it does make sense for a group of people to stream their gaming PC-activities to an Xbox.

              • If you argue that something is useless or inferior to an alternative, then you need to prove that it is that for everybody, not just for some people.

                No I don't. I don't have to prove anything in this discussion, because I'm posting on an Internet message board and voicing my opinion. When I'm trying to get published in scientific journals, or if I'm on trial for something, those are the times I need to prove something.

                And in this case, I'm not even arguing that nobody should buy an XBox. I don't care what people do, and if the XBox is, for whatever reason, more convenient, by all means go buy one. I don't care very much what some random asshole on

  • $50 Streaming Device (Score:5, Informative)

    by KermodeBear ( 738243 ) on Thursday July 30, 2015 @09:26AM (#50213695) Homepage

    Why would a streaming XBox make a steam machine irrelevant?

    The $50 streaming device from Valve makes the XBox+App irrelevant: Steam Link Streaming Box [arstechnica.com]

  • Well they are taking a bloody long enough to come out with it. It should be called IceOS not SteamOS.
    • Well they are taking a bloody long enough to come out with it. It should be called IceOS not SteamOS.

      It's called SteamOS because it has already turned into vapor

  • Game streaming isn't steam machine's killer feature but a temporary workaround for games that don't have native linux port yet. So anything else matching it wouldn't make it any more or less useful than it already is.
  • by sabbede ( 2678435 ) on Thursday July 30, 2015 @09:41AM (#50213769)
    Steam home streaming works brilliantly for me. The image quality is every bit as good on the client as it is on the host and input lag is nonexistent (network hiccups aside). What I've heard about XBOX streaming (http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2015/07/xbox-on-windows-10-what-it-is-what-it-isnt-and-whats-missing/) leads me to think that, at least for now, it doesn't compare.

    Plus, I don't have an XBOX.

  • Valve shouldn't even bother to release it.

    It's too expensive, it's too underpowered, and it the game selections is comparatively weak.

    Honestly, why would I buy a SteamBox instead of a PS4? To play a bunch of low-budget indie games? Those are fun, but I can already play those on my PC.

    • > game selections is comparitively weak

      Hm.. Today I learned that the entire Steam catalog is a weak selection. From what I understand most people are not going with a Steam machine directly, but with the $50 Steam link and the Steam controller. That doesn't sound very expensive to me at all. Certainly cheaper than an Xbox One.

    • by tepples ( 727027 )

      why would I buy a SteamBox instead of a PS4? To play a bunch of low-budget indie games? Those are fun, but I can already play those on my PC.

      But can you fit two to four players holding gamepads around your PC's existing monitor? You can if your PC is hooked up to your TV. But if not, you'll need a streaming solution such as this or the Steam Link.

  • The point of Steam Machines is to get rid of Windows and MS... so how does Windows 10 help with that?
    Also... you can already plug your video card into your TV. You've been able to do that for over 10 years with a $10 extra long HDMI or Display port cable.
    If you want it wireless, there are devices that do that for about $100
    If you want a real "Stream" or shared desktop, Chrome Cast can do games now and the dongles $29

    Also... this story hit a day or two ago... on pretty much every "Pay to play" tech website o

  • How can a 350$ game console render a free SteamOS useless?

    I don't understand this whole fixation on "streaming"... connect your PC to your living room TV and be done with it.

    • by ledow ( 319597 )

      Exactly.

      To me, streaming is a long, hard, complicated way to replace a HDMI cable. Hell, even a £30 cheapy radio-transmitting HDMI works better most of the time.

      Controllers are wireless nowadays and every PC, laptop, tablet, etc. has DVI (and thus HDMI) or direct HDMI connectivity. I very much doubt the common ground between "PC gamer", "Running on ancient VGA-only machines", "Doesn't want stuff in the living room but wants to play there" and "Has many spare devices" is much of an intersection

  • Microsoft abandoned Games for Windows Live because it could not compete - even plugged into exclusive AAA-rated games, people hated it and then developers started REMOVING it from games that already had it.

    Let's not even mention that many of the old Microsoft games are on Steam already. They could have easily made those XBox / Windows exclusive, but then they'd have precisely zero of the profit they see now.

    Sorry, but MS is not a threat in the gaming arena. With Desura dead and Origin what it is, there's

  • Sell a USB steam stick which works with the controller and allows remote / cloud play (i.e. from another PC in the house or Valve's own servers) and some other stuff like Netflix, Youtube etc. MSRP, maybe $80. Very few people are going to buy a full blown PC running a custom Linux in order to play a subset of games.
  • That Steam Machines don't require an XBox One. I don't own any of these current gen consoles and never will. I have a much more powerful HTPC than an XBox One that runs Steam OS, has enough ports for an 8 man couch multiplayer session, has 2TB of disk space, with a better graphics card, better ram, and complete open-ness to install whatever I want.
  • The existence of a rival product does not make another product useless.

    Unless of course it's a social network or something.

  • Originally they would specify three different configurations of hardware, giving software devs a target to test for. Now the specs are up to third parties, negating the advantage of being sure a Steam game would work upon release.

    They could have consoleized PCs, giving people a plug and play experience with games that were tuned with default settings giving a guaranteed level of performance for the three teirs of boxes people could choose. Not only that, it could give developers a specific testing environ
  • ...you don't own an xbox (or a surface for that matter) and have absolutely no intention of getting one? How does that change Valve's position on the Steam machine?

  • Nvidia supports streaming from the PC to all kinds of stuff. Moonlight(formerly limelight) is an open source android client for Nvidia geforce experience streaming and works well on my 19 dollar Fire Stick attached to my TV, and on both my samsung phones. Steam big picture mode works great.
  • I can get XBox games on my PC right now, for the most part. They're in Microsoft store, they're on Origin, et cetera.

    I go to Steam because it's easy to find funky stuff and there's always a sale.

    The XBox app won't change that.

  • Not after playing with Win10 for the last day and a half. This isn't running smooth at all, the app store is down more than it's up (fair enough, everyone will be hitting it hard for updates, but even so, timeouts for this? odd for MS to not have the machine/bandwidth, unless it's others trying to mess MS about). At this point, to just have a box that plays games without having to fix windows permissions/dcom/registry tweaks, and connect upto the gaming rig that's doing nothing but run steam? I'm tempted.

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