So Valve had been teasing a trio of announcements all weekend to be revealed this week. Pretty much everyone was sure the announcements would revolve around the SteamBox, a console powered by Steam, and boy are we not disappointed with the first announcement.
The first announcement was a doozy. Valve has announced its very own operating system, conveniently named SteamOS. This operating system is built on Linux, powered by Steam and is specifically designed to give you the most out of all your games. This has been the dream of many a PC gamer. An OS that cuts out all the crap your PC does to focus exclusively on the games you love playing. The best part? It’s completely free.
As we’ve been working on bringing Steam to the living room, we’ve come to the conclusion that the environment best suited to delivering value to customers is an operating system built around Steam itself. SteamOS combines the rock-solid architecture of Linux with a gaming experience built for the big screen. It will be available soon as a free stand-alone operating system for living room machines.
But how are you going to play all those games you have bought that aren’t compatible with Linux? Well, aside from Valve’s efforts to port its Source engine to the Linux platform, it is setting up the SteamOS to have built in PC to SteamOS streaming. So you will be able to set up your Windows or Mac computer to stream those games to the SteamOS.
You can play all your Windows and Mac games on your SteamOS machine, too. Just turn on your existing computer and run Steam as you always have – then your SteamOS machine can stream those games over your home network straight to your TV!
This feature will specifically allow you to avoid dealing with the sometimes spotty, but still surprisingly good, performance of compatibility layers like Wine. Just have your office PC set up to stream your entire Steam library and you will be good to go. On top of this, you will still have native support for any game designed for Linux and the SteamOS.
This announcement sets in stone Valve’s efforts to leave the world of Windows behind and focus on bringing about a truly dedicated gaming platform. This will be big.
While this announcement does nothing to alleviate the still mostly closed Steam platform, Steam is still an invite only distribution platform, it does put a lot of pressure on Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo to step up their collective games. It could be just a few years before nearly every Steam user has a dedicated Steam Box plugged in to their TV playing many games unavailable on the console competition.
Additionally, the SteamOS has a big advantage over that of its console competitors, the ability to update hardware on a regular basis. Most console hardware is set in stone upon release and stays that way for 6 years or more. Yet, a SteamOS powered box could regularly update its CPU, GPU, RAM and more with little issue. This will allow better and better performance as time moves on rather than stagnation.
This could also lead to hardware competition from various computer and specialty retailers. Since SteamOS is free, people and companies can create and sell their own hardware designs to gamers and could create a great high powered, low cost environment for PC gaming.
This is only the first announcement of the week. They still have two more to go with the next coming on Wednesday around noon Central and the next probably Friday same time. We will report on those developments as they come.