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Valve announces SteamOS

There was no Steam Box in this morning's Steam announcement; instead, the company announced a free, entertainment-focused operating system based on Linux.

There was no Steam Box in this morning's Steam announcement; instead, the company announced a free, entertainment-focused operating system based on Linux.

(Credit: Valve)

Valve has upped its bid to take over the hotly contested living room with what it is calling SteamOS — a completely free, Linux-based operating system designed to work with your PC and television set.

"As we've been working on bringing Steam to the living room, we've come to the conclusion that the environment best suited to delivering value to customers is an operating system built around Steam itself," Valve said on the new SteamOS website. "SteamOS combines the rock-solid architecture of Linux with a gaming experience built for the big screen."

The upcoming operating system, Valve said, will allow you access to your game, friends and other Steam features right on your TV screen, so that you don't have to leave your Steam account behind to play games in the lounge room. It will focus on four key areas:

  • In-home streaming, which will allow you to stream your Steam games over your home network on your TV screen

  • Music, TV and movies, involving partnerships with media services such as Netflix in the US and probably very little in Australia

  • Family sharing, the recently announced feature that will allow users to share their game libraries with up to nine additional users

  • "Family options", which will introduce greater control over which games you share with whom.

The company also said that it is currently concentrating on beefing up audio performance. "In SteamOS, we have achieved significant performance increases in graphics processing, and we're now targeting audio performance and reductions in input latency at the operating system level," it said.

Like the Steam software platform, the operating system will be completely free — "forever", Valve claims. Although this move might put Valve at a loss initially, it's a clever one, rather like Amazon selling the Kindle at a loss — it hopes to combine its ease-of-content-buying experience with household ubiquity to become a major player in the living room space.

SteamOS will be available, Valve said, "soon". Meanwhile, the game developer and distributor will be making another big Steam-related announcement at 3am AEST on Thursday, 26 September. Stay tuned to the Living Room site.