Valve has announced that they’ve developed a free Linux-based operating system called SteamOS.
No, you won’t be able to run it on a calculator but the purpose of SteamOS is to allow gamers to play their Steam games on their televisions. Those of you familiar with “Big Picture“–Valve’s way of letting you connect your Mac or PC to the television–will know that it was very successful.
What makes SteamOS different from Big Picture is that Valve’s goal is to put SteamOS on a stand-alone console.
Which brings us to the first big question. Why will it still be necessary to have your PC running to play SteamOS games on your computer? How is that any different than Big Picture?
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!
The likely answer is that SteamOS will be “Big Picture” plus three other key features: media streaming, family sharing, and family options.
Valve realizes that if it’s going to take a stand against the next-generation consoles coming out soon, it needs to make headway with media streaming.
We’re working with many of the media services you know and love. Soon we will begin bringing them online, allowing you to access your favorite music and video with Steam and SteamOS. (Valve)
Also something to look out for is the family sharing. Since all Steam games are bought online using a profile, Valve needs a way to ensure that households with a game on one profile can play it on another profile.
In the past, sharing Steam games with your family members was hard. Now you can share the games you love with the people you love. Family Sharing allows you to take turns playing one another’s games while earning your own Steam achievements and saving your individual game progress to the Steam cloud. (Valve)
Of course, if you’re going to be sharing games between family members, you need to make sure that the content is appropriate for everyone in the household. (Remember there are still parents who care about game ratings). For that reason Valve has developed a way of monitoring content libraries.
The living-room is family territory. That’s great, but you don’t want to see your parents’ games in your library. Soon, families will have more control over what titles get seen by whom, and more features to allow everyone in the house to get the most out of their Steam libraries. (Valve)
More information on the Steam console will be likely be discussed in one of the two upcoming announcements. Yes, that means that a Half Life 3 announcement could be on the way too. SteamOS needs a solid launch game to get the attention of non-Steam users.
The next announcement is scheduled for Wednesday @ 1 PM EST.