Valve puts Steam on the TV
Big Picture UI turns a PC into a console
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". ®
Saturn and Dreamcast owners will disagree
I purchased these based on hardware as I believed the advertising :(.
Also lots of people purchase the PS3 because at the time it was cheaper than a stand alone bluray player.
"a linux steam box is great in principle but how much effort do nvidia and ati put in to optimise their drivers for linux, how many games arent suitable for linux or are 'games for windows'."
The work that Valve have done so far for Linux has been for their own games using the Source game engine and running under OpenGL. And AMD, Nvidia & Intel have actually been putting in quite a bit of effort in optimising their linux drivers, apparently:
"Finally, the Valve Linux team explained that they have been working closely with Nvidia, AMD and Intel to boost graphics performance for their respective hardware under Linux. 'They have all been great to work with,' the team claimed - Torvalds' experiences to the contrary - 'and have been very committed to having engineers on-site working with our engineers, carefully analysing the data we see. We have had very rapid turnaround on any bugs we find and it has been invaluable to have people who understand the game, the renderer, the driver, and the hardware working alongside us when attacking these performance issues.'"
See full article: http://www.bit-tech.net/news/gaming/2012/08/02/valve-linux-performance/1
I've been saying it ever since they announced their intentions to "get into" hardware - they're up to something... FWIW, the "Big Picture" UI for Steam was actually announced a while back when the UI was last overhauled. It wasn't called the same thing then - if it had a name at all - but the principle was the same: a 10-foot UI designed to be used with a joypad or game controller.
Despite what this article says, I still think they're heading towards a Linux-based Valvebox of some kind. Perhaps it'll just be an optimised and Steam-specific Linux distro to start with, but they're definitely up to something on the hardware front.
Back in the real world however, I'll be giving this new UI a shot when I get my HTPC finished properly.
Re: @Citizen Kaned
Having sudo style security on Linux is more important than the administrator dialogues on Windows. The reason being that Windows goes out of its way to stop you doing anything stupid, there are many safety nets. And even with sudo you have to be careful, Linux gives you the power to break things in spectacular ways. Remember that old saying of Uncle Ben's "With the ability to boil rice in the bag you can still get burnt fingers".
I get where you are coming from with the linux comment.
but you don't have to make it all esoteric commands though do you.
You make a small linux box, pack some hardware in that is up to speed with consoles, then put some sort of gui over it that makes it look and act like a console, maybe with a few extras like websurfing, email etc.
For most people thats all they are going to want it to be after all a console that does a few other tricks and allows them to buy games cheap through steam.
for the geeks you make it hackable as well.
Re: That's absurd
True, but valve may not be going for AAA. A simple, cheap console could be very appealing and if its linux based, it could offer very cool facilities. Amazon integration as good as a kindle, for content acquisition? hooks into the home stereo (likely to be near the tv), how about a calibre ebook server, general NAS or the obvious mythtv? If Valve can make a linux box really useful and there are lots of them around, then we might see more games coming onboard. There are plenty of basic linux games which Valve could give away or integrate into its cloud.