Valve has not announced a Steam Box yet, but they have announced SteamOS which can technically make any living room PC hardware into a Steam Box. Based off of Linux, SteamOS is a free operating system optimized for gaming on televisions. Like Linux, SteamOS will have a philosophy of "openness" where users can alter the software (and hardware) as they like. Oh, also it will stream any Windows/Mac games from your PC to your SteamOS machine. Yeah, how about that?
On top of "In-Home Streaming" SteamOS will have three other main features, including "Music, TV, Movies," "Family Sharing," and "Family Options":
- In-Home Streaming: You can play all your Windows and Mac games on your SteamOS machine, too. Just turn on your existing computer and run Steam as you always have - then your SteamOS machine can stream those games over your home network straight to your TV!
- Music, TV, Movies: We’re working with many of the media services you know and love. Soon we will begin bringing them online, allowing you to access your favorite music and video with Steam and SteamOS.
- Family Sharing: In the past, sharing Steam games with your family members was hard. Now you can share the games you love with the people you love. Family Sharing allows you to take turns playing one another’s games while earning your own Steam achievements and saving your individual game progress to the Steam cloud.
- Family Options: The living-room is family territory. That’s great, but you don’t want to see your parents’ games in your library. Soon, families will have more control over what titles get seen by whom, and more features to allow everyone in the house to get the most out of their Steam libraries.
On top of the features listed above, including streaming which provides access to gamers' full Steam libraries, Valve says hundreds of games are already running natively on SteamOS. Also, there's this: "Watch for announcements in the coming weeks about all the AAA titles coming natively to SteamOS in 2014." That's foreboding, isn't it?
Let's do a quick recap before closing this out. Valve has announce SteamOS, which is a free, Linux-based operating system that gamers can install on PC. It's designed for the living room, which is to say to be used with a controller and run on a television. It's optimized for gaming, which Valve claims offers, "significant performance increase in graphics processing." SteamOS' main feature is game streaming from Windows/Mac to the SteamOS hardware.
This is Steam's first announcement regarding their push for gaming in the living room. The next announcement will come in less than 48 hours -- Wednesday at 10:00AM PDT. SteamOS has the potential to be hugely significant. Perhaps a leading piece of hardware with SteamOS installed might help prove the operating system's viability? Expect Steam Box news on Wednesday.