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What is Steam OS?

Valve – the tech company behind the Steam digital distribution service and the stunning Half Life video game – has developed a new operating system that will allow users to play games, stream multimedia and surf the web using their TV instead of a computer.

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Steam OS is the latest project from Valve, the creators behind Half Life and the Steam digital distribution service.

Steam OS can be used without being plugged in, and simply syncs games and saves them directly to the cloud, providing an easy and effortless sync.

Steam OS comes as part of a new wave of cloud storage that people have started to use with their technology, setting itself apart from typical console gaming. Technology giants such as Microsoft and Sony are already appear to be showing a keen interest in the operating system's capabilities. And it’s easy to see why. Steam OS basically puts everything from your computer in one place and streams it directly through to your TV, so you don’t have to have a multitude of consoles and wires everywhere.

The free operating system will use Linux as its platform, making it fully open source for developers and coders to customise it as they wish – giving users more options than the standard gaming experience.

Main features

  • Home streaming
  • File sharing
  • Media services
  • Parental controls
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Steam OS will allow you to stream multimedia directly to your TV, without a huge bundle of consoles and wires.

Although Steam games that normally run on your Windows computer will play straight onto your TV, ones that haven’t been developed for Steam will require the computer to be switched on in a kind of remote access-type setup.

Steam has also developed a controller designed for use with the operating system. It can work as an alternative to the keyboard and mouse setup, but it’s not a requirement – your existing hardware will still be compatible (although this will make using the TV setup a bit redundant).

As well as the huge range of existing games, Steam OS has many AAA titles lined up for it too – and this includes indie games and software (e.g. Magix Movie Edit and RPG Maker). Steam is yet to say what these games will be, but are expected to make an announcement closer to the time of release.

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Steam has already captured the gaming market with the Steam Controller, but can its OS build upon its success even further?

To use this OS, Steam offer a hardware box, running Linux, which allow gamers to play PC games from their living room.

With the platform being offered as open source software, Valve, the manufacturers have said they mind what modified on it; fantastic news for developers who want a completely personal experience.

Release date

At the time of writing, the earliest release date we can expect for Steam OS is sometime in 2014. But as ever, keep checking back here at Geek Squad for more news and updates on Steam OS as they’re confirmed.

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