PC game service operator and game development studio Valve announced SteamOS this afternoon, finally formalizing a PC gaming hardware project known as "Steambox" we've heard dribs and drabs about over the past few years. The OS will function on "any living room machine," and it also streams games from your Mac and PC, as well as offering media playback functionality. The OS seems to be multifunctional in this aspect, both acting as an operating system for living room-based machines directly connected to televisions, and offering streaming capability from computers outside the living room. "Just turn on your existing computer and run Steam as you always have - then your SteamOS machine can stream those games over your home network straight to your TV," the announcement page says. The OS is free and built on Linux; it will be available "soon."
Valve says it's "achieved significant performance increases in graphics processing, and we're now targeting audio performance and reductions in input latency at the operating system level," with regards to streaming capability. "Game developers are already taking advantage of these gains as they target SteamOS for their new releases." No specific developers are named, but a job posting from Crytek points at one suspect.The project is intended to compete with traditional game consoles, and it seemingly evolves Steam's "Big Picture Mode" to that end (which isn't to say that service is going away). Valve specifically lists four new features as the pillars of SteamOS: in-home streaming, family sharing, music / TV / movies, and family options. Let's dive into those after the break.