SteamOS is Valve's Linux-based solution for bringing gaming to the living room, the company announced today.
The operating system will be available free to license for manufacturers building "living room machines," and it will also be available as a free download to users. Valve has customized Linux and Steam to facilitate gaming on big-screen TVs.
"We've come to the conclusion that the environment best suited to delivering value to customers is an operating system built around Steam itself," said Valve. "SteamOS combines the rock-solid architecture of Linux with a gaming experience built for the big screen."
Valve said SteamOS contains "significant performance increases in graphics processing," and the company is now working on improving input latency and audio performance.
According to Valve, "hundreds" of games already run on SteamOS, and announcements about AAA titles being brought to SteamOS in 2014 are coming in the next few weeks. In-home streaming is Valve's solution for games that don't support SteamOS natively — it'll allow you to run Steam on your existing Windows- or Mac-based PC and use a SteamOS-based machine to stream them to the television in your living room.
"downloadable soon. free forever"
SteamOS will also allow users to take turns playing a shared library of games with Steam Family Sharing, which Valve announced earlier this month. And Valve is promising family-oriented controls to ensure that kids don't have access to games they shouldn't be playing. In addition, the company said it is "working with many of the media services you know and love" to bring streaming music and video to SteamOS.
The news came on Valve's Steam page for living-room gaming, which the company launched with a countdown last week to tease the announcement, after Valve managing director Gabe Newell said earlier in the week that the company would reveal details on a Linux-based system designed for gaming in the living room.
Valve has been working on living-room gaming for a while. The company launched Steam Big Picture, a controller-based redesign of Steam built for gaming on an HDTV, last December. During the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show this past January, Newell said Valve was developing its own version of the so-called Steam Box, and was also working with hardware partners on other systems.
Valve has updated its countdown — the company's next announcement for living-room gaming will occur in two days, at 1 p.m. ET on Sept. 25. We've reached out to Valve for more details, and will update this article with any information we receive. You can speculate about the second and third announcements based on the updated teaser symbols below.