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Valve reveals linux-based SteamOS, but what is it?

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Today, Valve made the first of three major announcements, revealing SteamOS, a free operating system "designed for the TV and the living room."

"Thousands of games, millions of users. Everything you love about Steam," Valved teased. "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.

"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."

"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," Valve explained. "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."

Looking ahead, Valve's new Steam features -- available "soon" in both SteamOS and the Steam client -- will be "focused on the living room." This includes in-home streaming which will allow you stream games from your computer over your home network and straight to your TV. Music, TV, movies, and other media services will be brought online.

And lastly, there's a heavy emphasis on family. Valve has already introduced a Family Sharing program and the company will continue to expand on this with more features that give users more control over what titles get seen by whom.

Valve notes that "hundreds of great games are already running natively on SteamOS" and urges fans to watch for announcements in the coming weeks "about all the AAA titles coming natively to SteamOS in 2014."

So what exactly is SteamOS? Is it a console? What the heck is a living room machine? Valve is somewhat cryptic in their reveal, but it sounds like the beginnings of something much larger. Remember, there are still two more announcements to be made. On its own, SteamOS seems like an operating system that console manufacturers will be able to begin licensing; however, with two announcements on the horizon, I would not be surprised to see an official console announcement from Valve in the near future.

SteamOS will be available "soon" as a free download for users and as a freely licensable operating system for manufacturers," Valve stated. In the meantime, we'll continue to monitor the announcements and bring you any information we learn.

[Steam]

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Matt Liebl You can follow Senior News Editor Matt Liebl on Twitter @Matt_GZ. He likes games, sports, musicals, and his adorable dog, Wrigley. And his wife.
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