Valve yesterday revealed the first of three announcements for this week: SteamOS, a free Linux-based operating system for the living room. It’s not very relevant at the moment – nobody owns a device, i.e. “living room machine”, it will run on yet, but this announcement trio is not about right now, it’s about a company that holds a lot of sway revealing their hand and their plans for the future.
The most relevant part of the announcement is four new features that will be “available soon in both SteamOS and the Steam client”:
- In-home streaming of Windows and Mac games from your Steam library on your computer to your TV. The latency issue for streamed games haven’t been solved yet, the announcement states “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” and for this to work, latency has to be tolerable and if Valve can pull that off, I would love to stream my Steam library to a bigger screen.
- Access to music and video with Steam and SteamOS. “We’re working with many of the media services you know and love.” Not sure if these services will be global or North America only, but there is no competing for a prime spot in the living room without it.
- “Family sharing allows you to take turns playing one another’s games whilst earning your own Steam achievements and saving your individual game progress to the Steam cloud.” I have been very excited about family sharing. We have two steam accounts in the house and it would be great to have access to games on both accounts.
- Family Options will allow options to control “what titles get seen by whom, and more features to allow everyone in the house to get the most out of their Steam libraries.” Parents can immediately see the benefit of limiting access to some of their library, but I also think it’s a potential neat feature for socializing. It would be nice to be able to put together a list of visible titles with someone specific in mind. It is the “more features” that interest me the most. More options and more features hopefully means more choice and a better user experience.