Valve Hardware Pt. 1: SteamOS Announced

Subject: General Tech, Systems | September 23, 2013 - 11:20 AM |
Tagged: valve, SteamOS, Steam Box, big picture mode

SteamOS is the first announcement, of three, in Valve's attempt to install a PC into your living room. The operating system is unsurprisingly built from Linux and optimized for the living room. Still no announcement of hardware although the second part is less than 48 hours away. The key features of SteamOS will also be ported to the Steam client on Windows, OSX, and Linux. Are you seeing... the big picture?

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The four main features are: in-home streaming, media services, family sharing, and family options.

In-home streaming allows users to, by leaving their Steam client running on their PC or Mac, use their network to transmit video and controller input to SteamOS. The concept is very similar to OnLive and Gaikai. Latency is barely an issue, however, as the server is located on your local network. As the user owns the server, also known as their home computer, there is less concern of the service removing the title from their library. Graphics performance would be dictated by that high-end PC, and not the gaming consoles.

As a side note: Gabe Newell, last year at CES, mentioned plans by NVIDIA to allow virtualized GPUs with Maxwell (AMD is probably working on a similar feature, too). Combined with in-home streaming, this means that two or more Steam boxes could play games from the same desktop even while someone else uses it.

SteamOS will have music, movie, and TV functionality. Very little details on this one but I would assume Netflix is a possibility. The Steam distribution platform can physically handle video and audio streaming, especially with their updates a couple of years ago, but their silence about content deals leads me to assume they are talking about third-party services... for now, at least. We do know, from LinuxCon, that Gabe Newell is a firm believer in one library of content regardless of device.

We have already discussed Steam Family Sharing, but this is obviously aimed at Steam Box. One library for all content includes games.

Lastly, Steam will be updated for family control options. Individual users can be restricted or hidden from certain titles in other users' libraries. This helps keep them at-or-above parity with the gaming consoles for concerned parents.

Valve also believes in user control.

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.

SteamOS will be free, forever, to everyone. Both users and system builders (including OEMs) can download the operating system and install it on their machines. No release date, yet, but it will be available soon... Valve Time?

The second announcement will occur at 1PM EDT this Wednesday, September 25, 2013. According to their iconography, we can now assume SteamOS will be the circle. The next announcement is circle in square brackets: SteamOS in a box? If you come on over to find out (please do! : D), stick around an extra couple of hours (minus the time it takes to write the article) for our AMD Hawaii Live Stream at 3PM EDT also on September 25th.

 

Source: Steam
September 23, 2013 | 11:35 AM - Posted by Branthog

In order for all of this sharing stuff to really have value, they still need to treat your games as if they were a physical item. That is, multiple people on my authorized list need to be allowed to play games from the same person's library simultaneously, as long as they are not simultaneously using the same specific *game*.

Otherwise, that box you hook up to your entertainment center is going to be useless to the rest of your household, if you're busy playing Civilization on your desktop all night.

September 23, 2013 | 02:42 PM - Posted by icebug

This is clearly the right option and I would imagine it would come in time. I could see this being an issue with a few publishers that don't want to allow this unless it can be shown that they will sell more games this way.

September 23, 2013 | 11:35 AM - Posted by BBMan (not verified)

I think an announcement will be Half-Life 3 included?
:p
Well, personally I think Steam is invasive enough as it is. Now you want an OS? Sounds like spam for dark-siders.

September 23, 2013 | 12:58 PM - Posted by Humanitarian

HL:3 Steambox exclusive - Boom.

September 23, 2013 | 02:45 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

Nothing, thus far, has been SteamOS exclusive. They said all features will make it into Steam client. I doubt Half Life would be anything but the same.

September 23, 2013 | 12:39 PM - Posted by Patrick3D (not verified)

I am mostly interested in seeing if they announce a controller, something to compete against the Xbox360 and PS3 gamepads (nothing else really comes close in quality).

However, I don't see myself wanting to run their OS on my HTPC, i've already tried Linux in the living room with Ubuntu 13.04 and it was terrible. Not from a UI standpoint, but in terms of driver issues getting sound to work over SPDIF and HDMI out to a TV having problems with underscan and resolution (no 1080P with an AMD APU unless the config file is modified manually).

September 23, 2013 | 01:51 PM - Posted by Stealthgyro (not verified)

This is actually the fear I have. While I love open platforms and I really agree they are the future. There is that driver hump that you have to deal with quite often. It's the main thing I have had to deal with doing any kind of Linux setup which leads me to dual booting, and pretty back to just living in the Windows world until I "feel" like playing with Linux again.

September 23, 2013 | 02:45 PM - Posted by icebug

a new cross platform compatible controller that doesn't feel like a $20 Logitech special would be very important for this to work. Not only would you likely have issues setting up a controller in this environment but there is a serious lack of supported devices across the platforms. We need an available controller that just works!

September 23, 2013 | 11:34 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

God I hate steam and their awful bloatware drm. Can't wait for that company to die.

September 24, 2013 | 01:05 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

1. hold your breath for 12 minutes
2. die

September 24, 2013 | 12:33 PM - Posted by IndoAssassin (not verified)

with that mentalitly, I hope you feel the same with with EA with Origin and Ubisoft with how they are turnign their UPlay into another Steam type client.

September 24, 2013 | 01:57 AM - Posted by KasiorMC (not verified)

so.. steam box for raspberry pi? that would be nice. or maybe on one of those android dongles. the menus would be extremely slow, but it would be _affordable_

mix it with a bit of xbmc (whith all the add-on goodies) or plex and you are done. heck, they can make an official xbmc steam addon.

and as far as the controllers go... they can make it work with bough xbox's and playstion's and whatever_is_out_there as long it has some kind of a linux driver (and it probably does!)

September 24, 2013 | 03:10 AM - Posted by Trent Palmer (not verified)

"sudo apt-get install vlc xbmc cifs-utils netflix-desktop ubuntu-restricted-extras google-chrome handbrake-cli makemkv android-tools-adb transmission-cli plexmediaserver openssh-server xfce-desktop"?

awk and sed will probably come pre-installed.

One question I have is will the latest amd and nvidia drivers come preinstalled like we see with some of the European distros? Another question will there be a login manager where you can select different os user accounts and different desktop sessions?

September 24, 2013 | 12:38 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

PC gamer's mentality:

I love PC Gaming because I have options on which hardware to put in my computer. I can choose to upgrade and get the latest technology whenever I want.

Steam OS announced: WTF why do I have to use this crap. I don't want to have to choose which OS to use to play my games. I just want one OS.

Hypocrite much?

September 25, 2013 | 12:45 AM - Posted by Scott Michaud

Yeah, that straw man certainly is a hypocrite, lol.

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