John Paczkowski

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Valve Unveils Its SteamOS “Cooperating System”

Valve is expected to make a trio of big announcements about its PC gaming platform Steam this week, and Monday brought the first. Moments ago, the company uncrated SteamOS, a gaming operating system and a bold play for the living room.

Built on Linux, SteamOS extends Steam’s game-distribution platform to the TV, with a feature set intended to support that — in-home streaming and some not-yet-announced media service partnerships that will add video and music streaming to the OS, as well. Valve is touting it as an open, collaborative OS, a “cooperating system.”

“Steam is not a one-way content broadcast channel, it’s a collaborative many-to-many entertainment platform, in which each participant is a multiplier of the experience for everyone else,” the company explained. “With SteamOS, ‘openness’ means that the hardware industry can iterate in the living room at a much faster pace than they’ve been able to. Content creators can connect directly to their customers. Users can alter or replace any part of the software or hardware they want. Gamers are empowered to join in the creation of the games they love. SteamOS will continue to evolve, but will remain an environment designed to foster these kinds of innovation.”

An interesting approach to living-room gaming, certainly very different from the ones taken by proprietary console platforms like Xbox and PlayStation.

Valve plans to make SteamOS available as a free download for users and as a freely licensable OS for manufacturers interested in developing living-room gaming machines around it, though it hasn’t yet announced a hard date for that.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work