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Valve puts Steam on the TV

Big Picture UI turns a PC into a console

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Valve will today update its Steam software to add a new, secondary UI for TV-connected Macs and PCs.

Dubbed "Big Picture", the UI provides a console-style front-end for the otherwise standard Steam client. Big Picture can be operated with a mouse and keyboard, or a generic games controller.

Big Picture also includes a TV-centric web browser designed specifically for game controller operation. It is accessible from anywhere within the Big Picture UI, and even while playing Steam games on a TV.

Valve touted Big Picture's new text entry mechanism, called Daisywheel: a carousel of character groups; when a group is selected, the characters map directly onto a games controller's buttons.

All this neatly bypasses the need for Valve to develop its own console, as some pundits have suggested it is planning to do. That said, there's nothing to prevent Valve offering a mini PC pre-loaded with Steam, and its recent keenness on Linux may herald just such a move.

The new Steam UI is initially being offered as a beta release. Currently, it runs on Windows Vista, 7 and 8. Valve promised a Mac OS X version "soon". ®

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