While all the talk around the town has been about Valve introducing the Steam Box for the home living room solution, what a lot of people may have completely overlooked is that perhaps the Steam Box will be more software oriented than hardware based? With the ORBX.js downloadable HD HTML 5 codec for browsers, that's a complete and entirely possible outcome.
As noted on a blog by the co-founder of Mozilla, Brendan Eich, he stated that...
The advantages are many. On the good-for-the-open-web side: no encumbered-format burden on web browsers, they are just IP-blind runtimes. Technical wins start with the ability to evolve and improve the codec over time, instead of taking ten years to specify and burn it into silicon.
So if this is just a codec with the ability to allow people to run various media content from within a browser, how is it possible to play Steam using this ORBX.js plugin? Well, it's simple: The codec allows for virtual machine simulation, just as if you were running a program from the cloud using local or remote computation schemes with added near-field communication potential.
This means that you can run Steam through a VM using the ORBX.js HD HTML 5 codec and play all your high-end games from within a browser on any laptop or PC, no matter how high-end or low-end so long as there was a local or remote setup from which you could Cloud the data. Latency, of course, would still be an issue.
This kind of technology is certainly exciting, just so long as it doesn't replace actual dedicated runtime environments, I think I'm all good for this, as it would mean you could buy a bunch of old scraggly laptops and actually use them for high-end graphics processing and media management. Pretty cool, eh?
The ORBX.js isn't quite ready for consumer consumption just yet but we'll keep you posted when the codec or similar tech becomes available.