Valve announced details of SteamOS on Monday, the first of three announcements the company has promised this week concerning its Steam games retail service and Steam Box home console.
SteamOS is a Linux-based operating system “built around Steam itself,” according to the reveal site.
“SteamOS combines the rock-solid architecture of Linux with a gaming experience built for the big screen,” it continues. “In SteamOS we have achieved significant performance increases in graphics processing, and we’re now targeting audio performance and reductions in input latency at the operating system level.”
Valve also promises, “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,” and that, “Users can alter or replace any part of the software or hardware they want.”
Though SteamOS is Linux-based, Valve confirmed that Mac and Windows-based games will run on the new system. As expected, the operating system includes “in-home streaming”—your existing computer can stream games over your home network to your SteamOS machine. Latency has always been the problem with streaming games because they require a large amount of data and accurate input response; we’ll have to wait and see whether Valve adequately solves those issues upon launch.
Valve also reiterated its new family sharing plan, which allows titles to be shared across accounts, and announced it is working with “many of the media services you know and love” to bring them to both Steam and SteamOS.
SteamOS is free to download and install on any system, with a release date of “soon” according to the site.