Steam yesterday quietly made one of its more interesting new services public. Steam in-home streaming lets you stream a game from one computer on a local network to another. This sounds simple but has a number of possibilities in it. The most obvious use is to allow a system to run a game that it would not be able to do under normal circumstances. This could mean running a Windows only game on a Mac, a graphics intensive game on a lower powered system such as a laptop or a media centre PC or Steam box.
In home streaming also has the side effect that an account can have two copies of steam running online at once. Until this point if you had two computers you gamed on and you wished to switch from one to another you had to log off one system before you could start steam on the other.
The service is in open beta and requires you to opt into the Steam beta client. It also has recommended hardware levels of at least a quad core on the server PC and an accellerated H264 GPU on the the client and warns that milage may vary depending on your network.
Finally the service allows streaming of non-steam games and applications that have been added to the Steam library. This is not a supported feature but it does work in many cases and I’ve found several instances of people streaming games such as World of Warcraftb or Adobe Photoshop on their local network.