updated 02:17 pm EDT, Mon September 23, 2013
SteamOS to offer Steam-based gaming, licenseable by device manufacturers
Valve Software has announced it will be making its own operating system available to download in the future. SteamOS, the first of an expected trilogy of Steam Box-related items to be revealed this week, is an operating system based on Linux that is designed to run on a computer located in the living room, with a heavy focus on gaming.
The software, which will be available as a free download to users for their own PCs in the future, can be licensed by other device manufacturers for use, effectively turning SteamOS into a core component of the fabled Steam Box game console. It is claimed by Valve that it has "achieved significant performance increases in graphics processing" in its Linux-based work, and will be working on "audio performance and reductions in input latency at the operating system level."
Valve also claim that SteamOS will allow the hardware industry to "iterate in the living room at a much faster pace than they have been able to," with increased communication between content creators and consumers, and user-alterable software and hardware suggested for the future.
SteamOS and the Steam client will receive a number of extra features in the future. The previously-announced Family Sharing game lending system, music, TV, and movie distribution, and family access controls are heading to both the OS and client, though Valve does not reveal a date, only stating they will be "available soon." In-home streaming is also touted, with the SteamOS machine able to stream the game from an existing Windows or Mac system over a home network, in a similar manner to Nvidia's Shield.
While the announcement stops short of being a Steam Box, there could well be an announcement of such a device later this week. The first of three icons has illuminated on Valve's Living Room site, with the second icon showing a new timer that is due to end on Wednesday.