Valve unveils SteamOS, a free (gaming-centric) operating system

With the announcement of SteamOS, can a Valve 'SteamBox' console be far behind?

Valve will demo SteamVR hardware at GDC in San Francisco next week.

Well, it's not a console (at least not yet). 

But on Monday afternoon, in a move that one onlooker called "daring," Washington video game company Valve did unveil a gaming- and entertainment-centric operating system, SteamOS. 

"As we’ve been working on bringing Steam to the living room, we’ve come to the conclusion that the environment best suited to delivering value to customers is an operating system built around Steam itself," Valve wrote on the SteamOS landing page. "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." 

Plenty of questions remain. Among them: When will Valve actually launch the new OS? (The company says only that the software is coming "soon.") And what kind of capability and graphics power will SteamOS have? (Valve says that the software has "significant performance increases in graphics processing, and we’re now targeting audio performance and reductions in input latency at the operating system level.")

But here's one thing we do know for sure: Valve isn't done with the reveals. In fact, another two events are scheduled for this week, one on Wednesday and the other on Thursday. Over at Wired, Chris Kohler has a pretty good guess at what might be trotted out then. 

"Some clues to Valve’s next two announcements can be found on the teaser page," he writes. "The three announcements are represented as a circle (which we now understand to represent SteamOS), a circle in brackets and two circles together in the brackets. Since Valve has already said multiple times that it will do something with gaming hardware, Wednesday’s announcement is most likely a low-cost PC-type machine to be sold at retail that runs SteamOS." 

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