SteamOS promises to combine "the rock-solid architecture of Linux with a gaming experience built for the big screen."
The big Steam countdown has hit zero and amazingly, what greeted its hungry audience was not a server crash but SteamOS, a new, Linux-based operating system that will soon be available for "living room machines." Valve claims its new OS offers "significant performance increases in graphics processing," and says it is also working on improving audio performance and input latency.
Valve says "SteamOS machines" will offer a number of new features that have a focus on living room-based gaming. The biggest is probably the ability to stream Windows and Mac games from your standard PC to your SteamOS device, effectively bringing all your games to the big screen. Popular media services offering music, movies and television will also be accessible through the OS, and "Family Sharing" and other options will allow for easy sharing of games and more.
The SteamOS page also spends a good chunk of time talking about it as a "cooperating system," describing it as "a collaborative many-to-many entertainment platform, in which each participant is a multiplier of the experience for everyone else."
"With SteamOS, 'openness' means that the hardware industry can iterate in the living room at a much faster pace than they've been able to," it states. "Content creators can connect directly to their customers. Users can alter or replace any part of the software or hardware they want. Gamers are empowered to join in the creation of the games they love. SteamOS will continue to evolve, but will remain an environment designed to foster these kinds of innovation."
It's long on vague, jargon-y promises and short on detail, but there's no question that this is a big move. It's also worth pointing out, in case there's any question, that this isn't meant to muscle Windows (or whatever) off your PC, but to power separate, stand-alone "living room machines." In other words, in case there was any question, this all but guarantees that an announcement of a Steam box - the "SteamOS machine," as Valve puts it - will follow soon.
SteamOS is the first of three big announcements coming out of Valve this week - the countdown for the second has already started, and will hit zero in just under 48 hours, which means 1 pm EST on Wednesday.