Despite serving the biggest user base of PC gamers, Valve’s Gabe Newell has never been a big fan of putting all his eggs in the Windows basket. After all, that’s how the Steam OS and Steam Machines were born. So it isn’t exactly surprising to hear that Valve is working on making its SteamVR available on macOS and Linux as well. At least according to Valve developer Joe Ludwig, who says that such support might be due in just a few months. At least in beta form.
The virtual reality wave has undoubtedly benefited Microsoft indirectly, even though the company itself is hedging its bet on augmented and mixed reality instead. All major non-smartphone VR platforms run only on Windows PCs, and beefy ones at that. Naturally, there are have been some jealousy coming from the Mac and Linux camps.
Valve, or at least Ludwig. claims that it doesn’t want VR to be limited to just one operating system, even though it would prefer to have everything on its own SteamVR platform. Valve supposedly doesn’t believe in having gatekeepers (except perhaps itself) that could stifle innovation in this very young space. And so, also due to vocal demand, Valve has been working on making SteamVR available on other operating systems.
Easier said than done, of course. Current PC-based VR platforms, including SteamVR, naturally make use of Microsoft’s DirectX framework, which is, of course, limited only to Microsoft’s operating system (Windows and Xbox). Making SteamVR available on Windows, macOS, and Linux requires porting the platform over to a common API, Vulkan in this case, or at least OpenGL. While that might be OK for Valve, VR developers will also have to make the switch as well.
And that’s not yet considering support for the actual VR hardware. The driver situation on macOS and Linux hasn’t exactly been stellar, especially for the latter. The screenshot above of SteamVR running on Linux with the HTC Vive is, however, encouraging. That said, the SteamVR that could arrive months from now will still be in beta, and who knows when it will take its final, stable form.
VIA: Road to VR