Valve, maker of some of the most groundbreaking games of the last two decades, has taken their push into the living room to an entirely new level. An announcement today drew back the curtain on a secret operating system project named SteamOS, the world’s first PC gaming focused operating system.
Nine months ago, Valve released a new feature in their popular Steam client called “Big Picture Mode.” This mode enabled gamers with a PC system hooked up to their TV to experience an improved version of the Steam interface better suited to the larger screens found in the living room. It was only a matter of time until Valve built upon this first foray into the family room.
“Linux is the Future of Gaming”
Gabe Newell, Founder and CEO of Valve, was quoted last week as saying that Linux is the future of gaming, to be backed up by three announcements this week. The first announcement reveals that Valve is incredibly serious about making Gabe’s assertion a reality. The newly revealed SteamOS is a custom built Linux distribution built entirely from the ground up with gaming as the focus.
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. Game developers are already taking advantage of these gains as they target SteamOS for their new releases.
– SteamOS Announcement Page
This type of low-level optimization for gamers is a level of focus never before seen in an OS maker for PC. It does, however, echo the console market in its attempt to create an environment perfectly suited to gaming. Valve plans to differentiate itself from the console market by serving gamers who love to build and maintain their own machines. SteamOS enables the freedom and flexibility to game via a TV using a system entirely under the control of its owner. This puts Valve in competition against the console makers, but only indirectly as their initial target customers will be divergent.
SteamOS enables the freedom and flexibility to game via a TV using a system entirely under the control of its owner.
SteamOS: Not Just a Steam OS
Other announced features of this gaming OS include in-home streaming of games from any PC to the SteamOS enabled box, sharing of games between family members, new features for supporting multi-gamer families, and the ability to stream media through the Steam enabled box.
Valve will distribute this OS “soon” and it will be downloadable for free from their website.
One Down, Two to Go
Announcement one of three has made a significant impact on the future of PC gaming, even without an accompanying software release. If this announcement is anything to go by, the rest of Valve’s announcements this week will continue to be groundbreaking.
Is it a fool’s errand to hope that announcement three is Half-Life 3? Keep your eyes peeled this week to see!