With Valve's first announcement set for today at 12PM CST, many are speculating that one of them can be the long-awaited reveal of Half-Life 3. Others are pointing to Valve showing off their own Steambox hardware with a possible sale date this holiday season. But what I don't see that's being mentioned is one possible announcement that can potentially knock Microsoft down financially in the long run.
Steam's "Big Picture" mode was integrated into the software in December 2012. Big Picture mode is a 10-foot user interface, optimizing the display of Steam to work on high-definition televisions, allowing the user to control Steam via a gamepad or through keyboard and mouse. Newell has stated that Big Picture mode is a step towards a dedicated Steam entertainment hardware unit.
Also, Gabe Newell explained that Valve's strategy is to develop a single hardware unit themselves as the default model, internally named "Bigfoot", but work with other computer manufacturers who want to offer the same user experience but with different hardware configurations not offered by Valve's model. At the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show, Xi3 Corporation introduced a prototype modular PC, codenamed "Piston". This unit was one of several possible designs that Valve was looking as the default hardware model for the Steam Box, and is specifically designed to run Steam on Linux and support Big Picture mode. However Valve had clarified that though they did some initial exploratory work with Xi3, they have had no direct involvement with the Piston's specifications, and it is not necessarily representative of their final design for their Steam Box.
Not only that, in a July 2012 article from bit-tech, Newell indicated that adding Steam to Linux is "a nod to the users who have struggled for years running Valve games" under Linux itself:
"Valve wouldn’t exist if it weren't for the PC. If people look at what they can accomplish when they can limit competitors' access to their platform, they say, 'Wow, that’s really exciting.' Even some of the people who have open platforms, like Microsoft, get really excited by the idea that Netflix has to pay them rent in order to be on the Internet. That’s not how we got here, and I don’t think that’s a very attractive future. So we're looking at the platform, and up until now we've been a free rider. We've been able to benefit from everything that's gone into the PC and the internet. Now we have to start finding ways that we can continue to make sure there are open platforms. So, that involves a couple of different things. One, we’re trying to make sure that Linux thrives. So we're going to continue working with the Linux distribution guys, shipping Steam, shipping our games, and making it as easy as possible for anybody who's engaged with us — putting their games on Steam and getting those running on Linux, as well. It’s a hedging strategy."
In that same article, he also gave his response to Microsoft's touch-centric Windows 8 operating system and its Metro UI:
"I think that Windows 8 is kind of a catastrophe for everybody in the PC space. I think that we're going to lose some of the top-tier PC [original equipment manufacturers]. They'll exit the market. I think margins are going to be destroyed for a bunch of people. If that's true, it’s going to be a good idea to have alternatives to hedge against that eventuality."
With Gabe's recent smack talk about Microsoft and his love for the Linux platform (some are speculating that Valve is working non-stop on vastly improving Wine to make it more compatible with Windows games), can we see a possible announcement today for a Linux-based Steam operating system? For me personally, I would gladly hope so!