SteamOS Stories September 25, 2013

Valve announces Steam Machines hardware beta for SteamOS

Earlier this week Valve made the first of three big announcements being teased on its website with the introduction of SteamOS: a Linux-based, open and freely licensable operating system that will run any number of devices and deliver the Steam experience in the living room. Today the company announced the second part of the puzzle with the launch of a hardware beta program for “Steam Machines” that will run the operating system:

Entertainment is not a one-size-fits-all world. We want you to be able to choose the hardware that makes sense for you, so we are working with multiple partners to bring a variety of Steam gaming machines to market during 2014, all of them running SteamOS.

Valve has designed a “high-performance prototype” and it will ship 300 of the boxes to Steam users for free in order to test the platform:

While these products are still in development, we need your help. As always, we believe the best way to ensure that the right products are getting made is to let people try them out and then make changes as we go. We have designed a high-performance prototype that’s optimized for gaming, for the living room, and for Steam. Of course, it’s also completely upgradable and open.

The company is accepting sign-ups for the beta program until October 25. Here’s how to apply:

THE HARDWARE BETA ELIGIBILITY QUEST:

Before October 25, log in to Steam and then visit your quest page to track your current status towards beta test eligibility

1. Join the Steam Universe community group

2. Agree to the Steam Hardware Beta Terms and Conditions

3. Make 10 Steam friends (if you haven’t already)

4. Create a public Steam Community profile (if you haven’t already)

5. Play a game using a gamepad in Big Picture mode

With SteamOS, it’s not just games. Valve could quickly be on its way to making a full fledged Apple TV competitor with the Steam Machines it will begin testing for an expected 2014 launch. The company noted that its SteamOS operating system will also include features for other content such as music, TV shows, and movies, and Valve is already in discussions with various media companies to make that happen.

Valve’s Gabe Newell expressed previously that the biggest threat to the new platform would be if Apple made a major move into the living room with a revamped Apple TV.

SteamOS Stories September 23, 2013

Valve changes the game, announces its own Steam OS

Valve has been teasing announcements surrounding its much rumored Steam Box platform on its website, and today the company revealed “SteamOS” as the first of three announcements. There aren’t many details available just yet, but Valve says the Linux-based platform will be available soon as a “free stand-alone operating system for living room machines” and “freely licensable operating system for manufacturers.”

Steam is not a one-way content broadcast channel, it’s 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. 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.

Not too long ago Valve’s Gabe Newell expressed that the biggest threat to bringing Steam and PC gaming to the living room would be if Apple got there first:

“The biggest challenge, I don’t think is from the consoles,” Newell said. “I think the biggest challenge is that Apple moves on the living room before the PC industry sort of gets its act together.”

Valve says that game developers are already optimizing new releases set for 2014  that will take advantage of “significant performance increases in graphics processing” and “audio performance and reductions in input latency” in SteamOS. Although Apple has been beefing up its Apple TV with new content recently, it looks like Valve could beat Apple when it comes to bringing its ecosystem of games to the living room.

The webpage for SteamOS also mentions four new features coming to SteamOS and the Steam client soon, including: In-home streaming, music/TV/movies, Family Sharing, and Family options. Family Sharing will let users “take turns playing one another’s games while earning your own Steam achievements and saving your individual game progress to the Steam cloud.” The in-home streaming feature will allow users to stream games from their Mac or PC to a SteamOS machine over their home network, and Family Options will provide customizable libraries for different members of your household.

The company also says it’s working with “media services” to help bring music, TV, and movies to SteamOS, so we could be looking at more of a direct Apple TV competitor than simply a game console.

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