People looking forward to the big “Steambox” announcement were met by an anticlimax. Valve announced its own operating system for PC gamers, which turns any PC into a “Steambox.” Simply named Steam OS, the operating system is a highly modified Debian Linux stripped to bare, with all its non-essentials tossed out, and proprietary multimedia CODECs added, along with fonts, runtime environments, and in-built drivers for popular GPU, sound card, and gaming-peripheral brands. In essence, there’s everything in the operating system for PC gamers, and then some.
Steam diversified from distributing PC games to non-gaming PC software, and Valve plans to take that further by doing groundwork for its very own living room content-delivery platform to compete with the likes of Xbox One. Since Steam OS can be deployed onto x86-based PCs as tiny as an Intel NUC, it stands more than a half chance. Its baby-steps are taken with In-home Streaming, a feature that lets you stream content off a PC or Mac in your house. You can share games in your account with others in your family, and close friends, using the recently-announced Family Sharing feature. You get content-blocking features and restricted-accounts. You also get media-player software that lets you organize and play back music and videos in most open- and proprietary formats. You should be able to install popular web-browsers like Google Chrome. Steam OS is competitively priced against Windows 8.1 and OS X 10.9, at $0. Did we tell you that some of its icons look like companion cubes?