Valve has unveiled a new Linux-based operating system built around its popular Steam digital distribution platform.
The company has been talking up Linux as the future of PC gaming, and has promised a line of hardware that will make it easier for users to get their home computers into the living room.
Valve has already released Steam Big Picture Mode, which makes the Steam UI functional on a television, and has created a version of its sales platform for Linux.
SteamOS is the first of three announcements that will show off the work Valve has been doing as part of its wider plans to make the PC a truly open, gamer-focused platform.
“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,” reads the announcement.
“SteamOS combines the rock-solid architecture of Linux with a gaming experience built for the big screen. It will be available soon as a free stand-alone operating system for living room machines.”
SteamOS promises the ability to stream games directly to a user’s TV, not just from the host machine, but from other computers connected to the same network.
Apparently Newell hasn’t been fooling around when he talked about the idea of the PC driving every device in the home; this suggests a future where any game, app, or software on any computer with Steam loaded could be streamed – what amounts to a home cloud.
The company messaging for the product places a premium on openness, advertising the ability for consumers to modify any part of the hardware or software.
“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,” said Valve”
“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.”
Linux has long been sneered at by professional game developers for its lack of a unified API to communicate with hardware, among other issues, so the news that a games company has rolled out its own distribution is sure to turn some heads.
SteamOS also takes advantage of the newly announced family sharing options, so different users can determine what games are available to others on the account, so parents don’t have to worry about their kids getting access to the ‘mature’ games they play.
The next news from Valve is due at 1pm EST Wednesday.