Valve reveals SteamOS

Half-Life and Portal studio announces its own Linux-powered operating system; designed for the TV and the living room; will be available "soon" as free download.

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Half-Life and Portal developer Valve today announced its own operating system called SteamOS.

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SteamOS is based on Linux, is designed for the TV and the living room, and will be free.

"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," Valve said. "SteamOS combines the rock-solid architecture of Linux with a gaming experience built for the big screen."

SteamOS will be available "soon" as a free standalone operating system for "living room machines."

According to Valve, SteamOS will feature "significant performance increases" for graphics processing, and is also targeting audio performance and reductions in input latency at the operating system level.

"Game developers are already taking advantage of these gains as they target SteamOS for their new releases," Valve said.

Valve explained that the "openness" of SteamOS will allow those in the hardware business to iterate in the living room "at a must faster pace" than in the past. As an example, Valve said content creators can connect directly with their customers using SteamOS, while 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," Valve said.

Valve also revealed four new four new features that will be supported through SteamOS and the standard Steam platform. These are in-home streaming, family sharing (confirmed last week), "family options" like parental controls, and the ability to access movies, music, and TV shows from "many of the media services you know and love."

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Finally, Valve said SteamOS is rooted in the core ideas of the standard Steam service, the first pillar of which is games. The company said "hundreds of great games" are already running natively on SteamOS and mentioned that gamers should "watch for" announcements regarding AAA titles coming natively to SteamOS in 2014.

SteamOS will constantly evolve, Valve said, just like the way Steam has since it was introduced in 2003. According to Valve, SteamOS will continue to deliver game updates directly from creators and also "regular additions" and new features to the OS itself.

Valve has two more announcements slated for this week. The company's next reveal will take place on Wednesday, September 25.

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