Steam’s July User Hardware Survey Reveals Shift in Operating System Rankings

Key Points
  • Linux surpasses macOS as the second most popular operating system on Steam, according to the platform’s July user hardware survey.
  • Windows remains the dominant OS on Steam, accounting for 96.21 percent of users’ systems.
  • Linux sees a significant jump of over half a percent from June, reaching close to its all-time high on Steam.
  • The rise in Linux usage is partly attributed to the popularity of Valve’s Steam Deck portable gaming device running on Linux.
  • Steam Deck’s solid adoption rate since its wider availability without a waiting list has contributed to the increase in Linux users.
  • Steam’s improved performance on both Linux and macOS following updates, and Apple’s efforts to make the Mac a more viable gaming platform, also factor into the OS rankings.

In a notable shift on the popular gaming platform Steam, Linux has overtaken macOS to become the second most widely used operating system among users. According to Steam’s July user hardware survey, Windows still dominates the field, accounting for an overwhelming 96.21 percent of users’ systems. However, Linux has made a significant leap, claiming 1.96 percent of machines, while macOS trails slightly behind at 1.84 percent.

The rise in Linux usage can be attributed, in part, to the popularity of Valve’s Steam Deck portable gaming device, which runs on the Linux-based “SteamOS Holo” 64-bit version. This portable gaming system has garnered substantial attention and adoption, leading to a surge in Linux users on the platform.

It is important to note that some Linux users on Steam are not gaming on desktop systems. A substantial portion, over 42 percent of the Linux user base, comprises players using Valve’s Steam Deck. This indicates the growing appeal of the portable gaming device, contributing to Linux’s climb in the rankings.

While month-to-month variations in the survey results are common, the scale of Steam’s surveys typically limits significant fluctuations. Steam Deck’s wider availability since October likely accounts for a solid adoption rate, which is reflected in the latest survey results.

Furthermore, some changes made to Steam’s desktop application on Linux and macOS may have also impacted the OS rankings. These changes, influenced by the work done on the Steam Deck, have improved the application’s performance on both platforms. Although macOS experienced more significant improvements, Linux also benefited from the updates.

In contrast, Apple has been actively seeking to establish macOS as a more viable gaming platform. The company has been leveraging the impressive graphics performance of its M1 and M2 series chips in the latest Macs to attract game publishers. Recent high-profile releases like Resident Evil Village and No Man’s Sky have run well on modern Macs, further bolstering Apple’s gaming aspirations. Additionally, Apple has announced a new gaming porting tool for an upcoming macOS version, similar to Steam Deck’s Proton, which aims to enhance gaming performance on the Mac.

Despite these efforts, Steam’s user hardware survey clearly indicates that Apple has a long way to go in catching up to Linux and Windows in the gaming space. As Linux continues to gain traction, it remains a formidable contender in the world of gaming operating systems.


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