Valve has announced SteamOS, a free Linux-based operating system for the living room that will be available to download soon.
According to the company, “SteamOS combines the rock-solid architecture of Linux with a gaming experience built for the big screen,” and emphasized the importance of an open-environment “to delivering value to customers in an operating system built around Steam itself.”
“Steam is not a one-way content broadcast channel, it’s a collaborative many-to-many entertainment platform, in which each participant is a multiplier of the experience for everyone else,” Valve writes. “With SteamOS, “openness” means that the hardware industry can iterate in the living room at a much faster pace than they’ve been able to. Content creators can connect directly to their customers. Users can alter or replace any part of the software or hardware they want. Gamers are empowered to join in the creation of the games they love. SteamOS will continue to evolve, but will remain an environment designed to foster these kinds of innovation.”
Valve co-founder Gabe Newell has been critical of Windows 8 in the past, and the SteamOS seems like an aggressive hedge against it. Valve have said that Linux is the future of gaming on the PC, and their collaboration has already “achieved significant performance increases in graphics processing,” and that they are “now targeting audio performance and reductions in input latency at the operating system level.”
Valve claims game developers are “already taking advantages of these gains as they target SteamOS for their new releases,” with “hundreds of great games are already running natively” on the operating system. Future announcements pertaining to SteamOS will also show off “all the AAA titles coming natively to SteamOS in 2014,” the company says.
SteamOS will come equipped with four new features that are designed for the living room experience. One of them is the previously announced Family Sharing programme that will enable users to share their games library with friends and family. Valve will also introduce In-Home Streaming capabilities allowing users to stream games from their PC to a television screen. Other features include a host of media services that will allow access to “your favorite music and video with Steam and SteamOS,”; and Family Options, which will give families “more control over what titles get seen by whom.”
SteamOS was Valve’s first of the three-part announcement it plans to make over the week. The next announcement, most likely the unveiling of the SteamBox, will come on Wednesday.