Valve, the gaming company behind titles like Portal and Half-Life, plus the massively popular online gaming store Steam (sort of the iTunes of downloadable games), has just announced a new operating system: SteamOS. Instead of the PC-based Steam service, it's a program designed for gaming in the living room--sit on your couch, in front of your TV, and enjoy your games there.
"SteamOS combines the rock-solid architecture of Linux with a gaming experience built for the big screen. It will be available soon as a free stand-alone operating system for living room machines," Valve wrote on a site made for the announcement. (There are two more announcements coming this week, too.) The announcement's short on details, but here's the likely translation: the Linux-based OS will be potentially available for any gaming device you connect to your TV, although we don't know exactly which devices will decide to use/offer it.
A streaming function in the OS will also allow Steam users to send their PC or Mac games over Wi-Fi directly to their TV. "Hundreds" of games are coming that were designed specifically for the system, while all of Steam's 3,000-ish games will be available through the streaming service. (The OS will also be able to play music, TV, and movies. But that's even more vague: Valve only says they're "working with many of the media services you know and love.")
Last week we predicted that Valve would announce a game console running on Steam, and that's still entirely possible. Heck, with the operating system in place, it's even more likely now. The Valve announcement site had a countdown to this afternoon, and now the clock's been reset to what's presumably Valve's next announcement, at 1 p.m. EST Wednesday.