Last week Valve hinted at things to come this week, in regard to Steam. Valve has announced a new Operating System, SteamOS, which is a Linux-based OS and looks to combine the features of Steam with other functions that are found on many Home Theater software suites, such as; Steaming Music, Video, and TVs, as well as allowing games to be streamed from a Windows or Mac to a machine running SteamOS which is similar to what Nvidia is doing with the Nvidia Grid and Android-powered Shield. Lastly, it also combines the family-sharing options that Valve announced last week, which will allow you to share your games with members of your family.
Sounds fantastic, doesn’t it? It’s not a Steambox, but it’s Valve’s first official step into moving into the HTPC / Living Room space. Sure, they gave us Big Picture Mode, which lets games use a console-based UI for their Steam interface, something that I’ve been using on my PC since I was in the Beta for it, but that was a feature on top of a solid environment. This time, however, is an entire OS devoted to Steam, it’s not built on top of Windows or Mac and it doesn’t require either of the previous Operating Systems to run steam. That said, I’m happy to see that Valve is pushing to get more PC’s into the Living Room space. At the same time, you have to wonder what else Valve has up its sleeves.
“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.”
It’s no secret that Gabe Newell isn’t a fan of Microsoft’s Windows 8 or how they are approaching the PC gaming side of things and that he would love to move Gaming over to a Linux-based environment if he could. However, the PC gaming industry has always been dominated by Windows OS. Combined with the lack of support from gaming and hardware companies with updates and drivers, on can see that going with a Linux-based OS could be an uphill challenge. That said, I sure hope that this gets an unlimited amount of steam (see what I did there?) behind the SteamOS, as any movement for PC games only benefits the gamers and enriches the entire PC gaming industry.
My take on this is SteamOS will be exactly what Nvidia’s Shield does and simply merges the SteamOS with the hardware and allows you to stream games from your Windows PC. That sounds great. Hopefully, this isn’t limited to resolution and gives us true HD resolution or at least 1080p. If I’m right on this, all you wireless network games better get ready to make sure you’re on at least 802.11 “N” or upgrade to a wired network… or run one very long Cat 5E / 6 cable to your living room or man caves.
Bring it on, Valve, as you’ve piqued my interest. Also, we still have two more surprises from Valve, with only 47 hours to go for the next one.