Yup we know XBox, Playstation, and Nintendo. Between those three, you’d think the console market is all locked up. Steam hopes that assumption is wrong, and they’ll be launching a new Linux based operating system built entirely around the Steam gaming service.
SteamOS aims to pair a Linux kernel around a “Big Screen” gaming experience, and it’ll be launched soon as a stand alone piece of software for living room computing hardware. The idea isn’t without merit. Traditional computers running Windows for example need to use some of their hardware power to run the OS. Now that overhead is gone as all the computer will have to do is keep Steam running. With optimization, We could see performance gains in similar hardware simply by removing the traditional OS relationship.
SteamOS also looks to be focused on in home streaming. While hundreds of game titles will be available at launch, it’ll take a while before the entire Steam library will be ported over. Playing local music and video files over your home network is a given, but SteamOS will also allow you to play games on your PC over a local network connection on your TV. We’re also seeing user profiles, keeping adult game libraries separate from kids collections for example, and the recently announced Friends and Family game sharing will come built in.
Steam is a remarkably popular service. Currently 50 million people currently have accounts in over 180 countries. Leveraging just a small percentage of this user base could make SteamOS a serious player in the console market.
No word yet on supported SteamOS hardware, but manufacturers of shiny plastic discs probably aren’t looking forward to this console launch…