Games publishing house Valve is making three announcements this week about plans to expand its gaming business, and the first piece of news is that it's launching a royalty-free flavor of Linux that can be used by hardware vendors for console systems.
"As we've been working on bringing Steam to the living room, 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 the company in a statement.
"SteamOS combines the rock-solid architecture of Linux with a gaming experience built for the big screen. It will be available soon as a free stand-alone operating system for living room machines."
The "cooperating system", as Valve dubs it, allows users to stream games running on Windows and Mac machines onto a TV-connected box running SteamOS. Music, TV, and movies will also be added into the system once partnerships are in place, and the new OS also has new family-friendly features.
SteamOS also includes a "Family Sharing" option that allows siblings to share games and store their achievements and profiles separately. There is also a lock-down feature to make sure that delicate little snowflakes don't have their minds warped by violent video games.
Microsoft and Sony might have been hogging the headlines with their consoles, but Valve has made no secret of the fact that it wants to get into the living room as well, and not on the terms set by Redmond or on Windows 8. Not only do games run faster on Linux, Valve says, but shifting to SteamOS cuts out a middleman and enables Valve to control its products more closely.
Valve is expected to make its second announcement on Wednesday and another at the end of the week. The company has hinted in the past that it would produce its own console (rumored to be called SteamBox), but SteamOS is also designed to be used by third-party console vendors.
How many will bite remains to be seen. ®