For years, Windows has been the defacto platform for Gamers, thanks to the wide set of factors: Better driver support, proprietary technologies push, and Microsoft marketing.
OS X has got the potential, thanks to Mac App Store and Macbooks/Mac Pros adopting powerful graphics. But would it take off, is just a matter of time.
Windows 8 can have brighter future with Gaming thanks to upcoming Microsoft’s plan to bring Xbox game compatibility to Windows 8 PCs. We could see Direct X 12, Driect X 13 unifying the Gaming platform for Xbox and Windows 8 PCs.
So if windows is unifying with a gaming console, doesn’t it have a bright future ahead? Well, that’s not sure.
Game developers like Valve have shown disinterest in Windows 8. They are favoring Linux and are betting big on it. Recently, Valve had brought Full Steam support to Linux after years of asking. It doesn’t stop there, Valve has now invested big in Linux based game engine. Valve Linux blog highlights that the Source Engine actually runs faster on Linux than it does on Windows. This was benchmarked on Intel i7 3930k, Nvidia GeForce GTX 680, and 32GB of RAM to pit Left 4 Dead 2 on Windows 7 against Ubuntu 12, and the results are rather interesting.
Gaming Benchmarks Windows vs. Linux
Valve’s Linux port of Left 4 Dead 2 ran at only 6 FPS on the i7 machine, but after tweaking the game to make effective use of the efficient characteristics of the Linux kernel and OpenGL, the Valve Linux team was able to eke out a much higher 315 FPS. Using the same machine running Windows 7 and Direct3D, the same game ran at 270.6 FPS, or roughly 14 percent slower.
This of course led to questions why was OpenGL was was faster on Linux than Direct 3D on Windows?
Observation: On the same hardware, there are “a few additional microseconds [of] overhead per batch in Direct3D which does not affect OpenGL,” indicating that Direct3D may not be as efficient as Microsoft would like developers to believe. OpenGL, available on all platforms, is still far better in performance when it comes to complex graphical operations.
There are still challenges ahead for the Valve Linux team, however, but it all boils down to the current fact that current state of Linux graphics card drivers is still messy.
But if Game developers team up wisely, they can motivate AMD and NVIDIA to work on that matter. Valve had already collaborated with Intel hardware engineers on that matter. Progress and desperation needs to be seen.