Microsoft's Family Sharing scheme may have fallen by the wayside for now, but Valve have picked it up and are going in heavy. Steam will soon allow you to share your games library with ten other devices and their users, starting next week in a limited beta.
Once you've designated a PC or Mac as an authorised device for your account, "close friends and family members" can access your entire games library with their own Steam accounts, allowing them to create their own cloud saves and earning their own achievements.
"Our customers have expressed a desire to share their digital games among friends and family members, just as current retail games, books, DVDs, and other physical media can be shared," explained Valve representative Anna Sweet. "Family Sharing was created in direct response to these user requests."
There are a few major caveats. Multiple users can't access the same library simultaneously, and the lender always has priority. UPDATE: "A shared library may only be accessed by one user at a time," Valve elaborates. "As the lender, you may always access and play your games at any time. If you decide to start playing when a friend is already playing one of your games, he/she will be given a few minutes to either purchase the game or quit playing."
"Borrowed games will be unavailable on even an authorized device when the lender's library is currently in use on another computer," the FAQ continues. There'll also be a few game-specific exceptions, such as games with third-party subscription keys.
It's tempting to suggest that Valve's 'Steam Box' will offer the same functionality when it finally breaks cover, and this is perhaps a neat way to test the system while giving PC users let another perk (and letting their families play some of their backlog that would just go unplayed otherwise!).