Valve, the game development house behind Steam has released a public beta version of the gaming oriented Linux based operating system, SteamOS on Friday.
SteamOS is the first operating system dedicated to gaming, designed to run on the studio's upcoming Steam Machine hardware – the line-up of gaming PCs tailored to be hooked up to the living-room TV.
The Steam Machines are not yet prepared for the public consumption (the beta models were sent out Friday to 300 random selected participants). Of course, the end-user can download and install the SteamOS on any computer. At the time of writing, only NVidia graphic card based machines are supported (Intel and AMD support are promised "soon.")
Obviously, the native gaming compatibility is not nearly as great as it is for the standard PC, since there are not so many games that have Linux compatibility. Valve is promising some more than 3000 titles in the nearby futures, including an extensive line-up of AAA games coming on the SteamOS.
Valve also has mentioned that a series of discussions with media providers for additional multimedia support have been going for a while now. There are no official names as of yet.
As expected, the SteamOS also includes a series of interesting features such as full parental control, the ability to stream Steam Games from a Windows machine, and the ability to simultaneously play games in a single household, no matter whose account is active.
As I mentioned before, Valve has also chosen 300 random testers, and with the launch of the operating system, has delivered the prototypes of the Steam Machines today. The Machine is an upgradable games dedicated tool slated for release next year.
Valve admits that this is a prototype it's not yet as user friendly as it could be, and suggests a working knowledge of Linux could help to to install it at this stage, with more convenience and polish to be added in the new year.