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Valve Announces Free SteamOS As First Living Room Announcement

by Mike Futter on Sep 23, 2013 at 07:11 AM

Last week, Valve founder Gabe Newell spoke at LinuxCon and teased a living room hardware announcement that would be coming soon. On Friday, a new page appeared on the Steam website with a countdown expiring today that states "the Steam universe is expanding in 2014." Today, we know one of the three surprises.

SteamOS is the first piece of the puzzle. Valve has developed its own Linux-based operating environment that the developer claims improves graphical performance. The studio is now targeting improved audio and reduced gamepad latency, all for an operating system that is designed to function in a living room setting.

In addition to being a native environment that Valve says developers are already targeting devices running SteamOS can stream from PC and Mac. Without naming partners, Valve has also disclosed that common media streaming apps will be on-hand, also. The operating system will build upon the recently announced Steam Family Sharing program and allow a number of user profiles with segmented libraries to appear, aiding in parental control.

Valve is making SteamOS free for users and freely licensable for hardware manufacturers. Two more announcements are coming this week, with the next on Wednesday at 1 PM Eastern.

[Source: Valve]


Our Take
The SteamOS is no doubt phase one of a Valve hardware announcement. Sure, making the OS licensable for free to manufacturers is smart, but leading the way with a homegrown device will seed adoption. If SteamOS is the first announcement, and hardware is one of the other two, I have strong suspicions that a killer app is the third.