Jan 14, 2024 5 min read

Third-party SteamOS, but not really

In today's edition of the overkill newsletter, I wonder where the public release of SteamOS is?

AYANEO Next Lite
Looks like SteamOS, smells like SteamOS, is not SteamOS.

In today's edition of the overkill newsletter, I wonder where the public release of SteamOS is?

Hi there, and welcome to a new edition of the overkill digest newsletter.

The Steam Deck's second anniversary is fast approaching, and we're currently working on an interview series with some people from the scene. If there's someone you want us to interview, be it a dev, a member of the community, someone creating accessories, or whoever else, reply to this email with your suggestions, and I'll see what we can do!

Also, for all following my adventures in Magic: The Gathering. I signed up for a pre-release drafting tournament, and... I'll get utterly destroyed.

But let's get to this week's news.

Where is SteamOS?

Be amazed at my Photoshop skills!

On Wednesday, AYANEO had us all surprised (and bamboozled, but more later) by announcing the Next Lite, the first third-party handheld shipping with SteamOS. Here's what our original reporting had to say:

In a blog post on the main site, Ayaneo announced this new device, stating that they're pretty proud of the AYANEO Next and that it "returns in full force with the rejuvenated AYANEO NEXT LITE. Building upon the foundation of top-tier flagship design and texture, AYANEO NEXT LITE comes pre-installed with the SteamOS gaming system for the first time."

This announcement led to much discussion, as people were surprised how AYANEO, of all companies, were the first to use SteamOS – and not ASUS or Lenovo. People also wondered why Valve would give SteamOS to a competing company in the first place.

As it turns out, they didn't, as AYANEO later changed their messaging: The Next Lite doesn't ship with the official SteamOS but with HoloISO, an unofficial port of Valve's operating system.

Update: The AYANEO Next Lite is an exciting upcoming budget-handheld
The AYANEO Next Lite is a budget handheld and the first third-party device with SteamOS pre-installed.

This makes much more sense, but it made me wonder: Where even is the public build of SteamOS?

Back in 2022, an update to Valve's repository made us all think a public release was near, as they added a Media Creation tool to their repository. There were also reports that GPD was in talks with Valve to bring SteamOS to their devices. But none of this has proven true, as there has been radio silence ever since.

However, in November 2023, we finally got more info from Lawrence Yang himself. In an interview with PCGamer, Valve’s Yang had the following to say:

"Oh, man [...] it's very high on our list, it's on our list and we are working on it. But a lot of the same people that would make the general install of SteamOS available are the same people that are making Galileo [Steam Deck OLED] work. We're hoping soon, though, it is very high on our list, and we want to make SteamOS more widely available. We'll probably start with making it more available to other handhelds with a similar gamepad style controller. And then further beyond that, to more arbitrary devices. I think that the biggest thing is just, you know, driver support and making sure that it can work on whatever PC it happens to land on. Because right now, it's very, very tuned for Steam Deck.

So there's that. This makes it sound like it's not anywhere near, as Valve is very obviously (and understandably) focused on making the Steam Deck the best experience.

I still believe it will ship one of these days. While some people might think it makes no sense for Valve to give admittedly the best feature of the Steam Deck to their competitors, there's one thing they seem to forget: Valve gets a 30% revenue share of every game sold through Steam regardless of where you’re buying.

So, the more devices use SteamOS, which is deeply linked with the Steam Store, the more revenue Valve can get.

We all need to wait before installing Valve's operating system on our gaming PCs.

As for the AYANEO Next Lite, it looks like a decent budget option, starting at $399. Though it will use either the AMD 4500U or 4800U, two chips I have zero experience with. But Cary, aka ThePhawx, confirmed performance will be about half of what's in the Steam Deck, so I'm unsure if this device will be worth it.

In other news

That's it.

Have a great week, and see you next Sunday.


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