Valve plans SteamOS hardware launch for 2014, opens beta program

Valve on Wednesday announced its plans for long-rumoured Steam hardware, machines slated to provide an ecosystem to run the SteamOS software revealed on Monday. Hardware devices will ship from several hardware manufacturers in 2014 - it won't all be from Valve in-house. 

"Entertainment is not a one-size-fits-all world," Valve announced. "We want you to be able to choose the hardware that makes sense for you, so we are working with multiple partners to bring a variety of Steam gaming machines to market during 2014, all of them running SteamOS."

Until 2014, the company has introduced a Steam Machines beta to begin testing hardware running SteamOS. Valve says fans have until 25 October to sign-up for the beta through the Steam Machines website. It will be shipping only 300 boxes to Steam users, free of charge, for testing this year. 

The beta box that will be made available to users for testing are for those "who want the most control possible over their hardware". The boxes that will ship in 2014 "will optimise for size, price, quietness, or other factors."

SteamOS is built on Linux and will be available as a completely free download. While Valve will make hardware available, SteamOS will work in a machine in your living room and stream games from your PC or Mac so you can enjoy them on the big screen. 

"In SteamOS, we have achieved significant performance increases in graphics processing, and we’re now targeting audio performance and reductions in input latency at the operating system level. Game developers are already taking advantage of these gains as they target SteamOS for their new releases," Valve said on Monday.

Valve is continuing to tease a third announcement for Friday at 1pm EST (6pm in the UK). Some believe it could be the introduction of Half Life 3. Of course, it could be something else entirely. "We have some more to say very soon on the topic of input," the company writes. Could it be a controller?