Valve just announced the first part of its living room strategy with SteamOS, a free Linux-based operating system that takes the ‘Big Picture’ feature one step further. In addition to playing your game collection, SteamOS allows you to watch movies and listen to music.
The company has yet to announce a hardware partner for SteamOS, but this could certainly be the operating system behind the rumored Steam Box computer. OEMs will be able to use SteamOS to build gaming computers, as Valve states multiple times that it’s an open platform.
When it comes to gaming, SteamOS will work particularly well for audio performances and reducing input latency. Yet, only Linux games will work on SteamOS. While many games are now available on Linux, it still has a long way to go compared to Mac OS and especially Windows. That’s why you will be able to run Steam on your Windows or Mac computers in another room and then stream your games to your living room using SteamOS. Latency shouldn’t be an issue, as everything happens on your local network.
The family sharing feature now makes even more sense as the living room is the perfect place to let your kids play video games. Everyone will be able to have a separate profile and play the same games, just like you would on your Xbox.
SteamOS could certainly replace your gaming console, but it could replace your Roku or Apple TV as well for movies, TV and music. Valve didn’t announce a content partner but did say they are “working with many of the media services you know and love.” Services such as Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus and HBO Go should make their way to the platform.
While many of these services are only available in a few countries, SteamOS will be available for everyone in the world. We just don’t know when or what devices will run SteamOS. The second announcement is set for Wednesday.
The company has yet to announce a release date for SteamOS. And while it isn’t the long-anticipated Steam Box, Valve plans to make other announcements in the coming days. On Steam’s website, users can find a teaser page with three icons that represent three different announcements for the living room — SteamOS is only the first one.