Will Be Free To Download And License
Valve have revealed their first big surprise of this week. Not content with just being a client, Steam will soon be available as a freely-downloadable operating system called SteamOS. As you'd expect, it's based on Linux, but with a focus on straightforward operation on living room televisions.
Naturally Valve's 'Steam Box' hardware will likely take full advantage of this freely-licensable operating system, and we'll find out more details in 48 hours. Until then, we've got all the SteamOS details below.
According to the newly-launched website, SteamOS is a "free operating system designed for the TV and the living room." Linux provides much of the core architecture, but unlike the somewhat arcane original operating system, SteamOS is specifically built to be simple to operate while sprawled on your sofa in front of the telly, effectively offering a console-like user experience with the PC's rich feature set.
Simplicity will apparently be accompanied by power, too, since SteamOS is designed primarily to be a gaming platform. "In SteamOS, we have achieved significant performance increases in graphics processing, and we’re now targeting audio performance and reductions in input latency at the operating system level," Valve explains. "Game developers are already taking advantage of these gains as they target SteamOS for their new releases."
Steam is naturally built directly into SteamOS, with seamless access to Steam Workshop, the storefront and your Steam account. Well, if it works.
Streaming is also a key part of the new operating system. You'll apparently be able to stream PC and Mac games directly from your existing PC to a "living room machine" running SteamOS over your home Wi-Fi network. In-home music and video streaming will also be available, and are headed to the Steam client in the next update. Valve will apparently announce some deals with media providers very soon in order to offer a range of films and music from the marketplace.
Though an exciting announcement that will make life easier for PC owners who primarily enjoy gaming on a bigger television, this is just the first step in Valve's master plan for living room dominance. SteamOS' gaming and streaming potential will provide the foundation for a range of those aforementioned "living room machines," the details of which will be revealed over the next few days.
The Steam Box is coming. Probably. Definitely.