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Valve taking on your living room with SteamOS

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(Credit: Valve)

Steam -- Valve’s popular digital game distribution service -- is outgrowing your home office.

The publisher announced plans Monday to launch a Linux-based standalone operating system called SteamOS. Due in 2014, the platform is designed to help further the service's move into the living room.

While the Windows and Mac versions of Steam will continue to exist, Valve's making bigger promises for the dedicated OS, saying it will offer players the chance to run games from the user's collection, stream media (including music, TV and movies), and enable family sharing.

"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," the company said. "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."

By launching its own OS, Valve's able to sidestep the restrictions found in Windows and Apple's OS. The company says it plans to release the OS for free, which could help it find a groundswell of support. Linux has struggled to make a footprint in the OS wars previously, since it was largely viewed as too complicated for most end users.

The announcement marks just one-third of Valve's planned living room strategy. The company is promising another announcement on Wednesday and a third later in the week.

Many expect SteamOS to be the driving force behind the rumored "Steam Box," a console-like set top box that would put Valve in direct competition with Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo.

SteamOS could have a wider range of targets, though. With its media streaming, it also is a potential threat to Roku and Apple TV. Valve has yet to announce any specific media partners, but said it is "working with many of the media services you know and love."

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