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Piston 'Steam Box' maker breaks from Valve's vision of a Linux-powered system

Valve's decision to break away from their work with Xi3 and their modular "Piston" computer won't impact the Xi3 Piston or how it works, the computer maker said today in a prepared statement.

Though there is one distinct difference in Xi3 founder Jason Sullivan's vision of a "Steam Box": The Piston will also use the Windows operating system at its core, not Linux.

"To be clear, the Piston console will ship initially with a Windows operating system specifically because that's where the vast bulk of game software and computer gamers are today," Sullivan wrote. "That said, the Piston console can also run Linux (and other operating systems), which means it can support the Linux-version of Steam."

"Contrary to Valve's vision, Xi3 believes that the way to take this to market today is to do so with a Windows OS at the core, coupled with the ability to not just get to one platform/store for games, but to get access to all game stores/platforms. Studios should have the option to go through Steam if they choose or to go direct to the end-user if they so choose. That will be the difference between Piston and other Steam Boxes. You'll be able to access Steam if you choose, but you'll also be able to access other platforms as well-all through the Piston console.

Last week at SXSW, Xi3 showed off the customizable interface for their modular computer and started taking pre-orders.

"We have opened Piston console pre-orders and have been amazed at the interest and amount of pre-orders we have received thus far," Sullivan said. "This just reaffirms to us our decision to open pre-orders, because we are seriously concerned we will not be able to meet the demand for Piston consoles for the 2013 Holiday Season."

Earlier this week, Valve spokesman Doug Lombardi told Eurogamer that while Valve initially had a relationship with the computer maker, it no longer does.

Sullivan reacted this morning, sending out a press release detailing a bit more of that early relationship, saying that Valve Corporation had invested in the prototype and asked Xi3 to build a product specifically for the company.

"Then, during a meeting with Valve at CES, Gabe Newell personally asked me that we not disclose additional information about our relationship with Valve," Sullivan wrote. "We have honored that request and will continue to do so."

Sullivan added that the Piston will still work with Steam whether or not Valve is working with Xi3 on the project.

"Piston will also support a raft of other Internet-based gaming and entertainment platforms, which is more than what Valve apparently has planned for its official Steam Box," Sullivan wrote. "In this way, the Piston console could be perceived as something more than just a Steam Box, which makes sense because at its core the Piston console is a modular computer that can run any operating system or application designed to run on an x86-based 64-bit computer.

"In closing, what Valve does or doesn't do with its Steam Box will be up to them. So Gabe, it's up to you. The ball is in your court."