Alienware Steam Machine switches to Windows for earlier release

Gaming PC firm says Steam Machine delay is "excellent news"
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Dell Alienware will swap Valve’s SteamOS with Windows in order to launch its own Alpha gaming PC this year.

The Alpha was originally teased as the firm’s first Steam Machine, which it said would run on the Linux-based SteamOS operating system and come bundled with a Steam Controller.

However, following the recent news that the first round of Steam Machines and Controllers would be delayed until 2015, it seems that Alienware has decided to go ahead and release the Alpha gaming PC-console system early.

Alienware has replaced SteamOS with Microsoft Windows, while the touchpad-equipped Steam Controller has been swapped for a PC-compatible Xbox 360 controller.

The new Windows Alpha will launch in Q4 2014 for $549 (£327), followed by a SteamOS iteration of the box in 2015, once Valve officially launches the Steam Machines next year.

While the Windows machine will be missing SteamOS, players will still be able to utilise Steam’s in-built Big Picture mode, which provides a controller-compatible user interface designed for use on large-screen living room televisions.

Alienware has also designed its own large-format interface with support for a controller, which it says can be used from 10 feet away.

“It’s our objective to bring PC gaming to the living room,” Frank Azor, executive director of the Alienware division at Dell, told GamesBeat.

“We’re delivering a solution that makes Windows a great experience on the TV. This is an experience designed for the living room.

“We want to make it a true console experience. It will be hard to buy a machine that meets or beats this price.”

The Alpha is powered by an Intel Core i3 Haswell-based processor, 4GB of RAM and a custom Nvidia Maxwell-based graphics chip with 2GB of GDDR5 video memory. Users can also configure their machine with an i5 or i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM and a one or 2TB hard drive.

Other specs include dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity; HDMI in, out and direct pass-through; uncompressed eight-channel audio, 4K support, USB 3.0, 500GB of standard hard drive storage capacity and Windows 8.1 64-bit.

Regarding the delay of the Steam Machines, Azor commented: “Our schedules had been perfectly aligned up to now. When they became disjointed, it was based on customer feedback. There was still work to be done. We debated a delay, but that didn’t make sense.”

He added that Valve’s delay didn’t spell disaster for the Steam Machines.

“I appreciate their fortitude in delaying the product until it is perfect,” he said.

“How many times do we see companies come out with something that is half-baked and get it right by version two or three?

“We view this as excellent news, not bad news.” 

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