Valve has announced that the Big Picture version of Steam will be entering its beta phase later today. Big Picture has a redesigned interface that has been tailored to work on TVs, with larger fonts, icons and menus, all designed to work equally well with a game controller as a mouse and keyboard.
Big Picture means that nearly the full gamut of Steam features can now be accessed on a TV in the lounge room — so you can buy games, chat with friends, access your gaming library and more. Valve is particularly impressed with the browser that it designed for Big Picture — a reticule-based navigation system that it's calling the "world's first first-person browser", also noting in its own unique way that it "doesn't suck". The on-screen keyboard has also been optimised for a game controller, using a "daisy wheel" system.
Obviously, you'll need to have your PC connected to your TV for Big Picture to work, but the service puts Valve firmly in the lounge room, traditionally the domain of the console gamer. Whether PC gamers have been looking for a more casual approach for some types of games remains to be seen, but this certainly looks like Valve has placed the Xbox and PS3 firmly in its sights.
You can see more details on Big Picture and the system requirements here and view a trailer explaining the service below.