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The all-in-one system was supposed to be Microsoft's pledge to entertainment-philes; it was supposed to usher in a new era of a system that encompassed a media device that was one to rule them all. However, the Xbox One hasn't quite achieved that due to is extremely closed-in ecosystem. Another challenger has stepped up in its stead... this time promising the same thing but all for free.
Valve's SteamOS is based on the Linux operating system infrastructure and is entirely free to use. In fact, you can download and start using the beta version of the OS at this very moment.
However, simply making a platform that's optimized for games isn't the only thing Valve has on their minds. The company also wants to ensure that users are getting the complete entertainment experience by enabling media streaming, TV support, content management and music options as well.
According to a detailed post on Computer and Videogames, Valve's Anna Sweet made the intentions of the company obvious during the Steam Dev Days that took place in Seattle, Washington this past week.
As noted on CVG...
“...according to Sweet, Valve aims to have movies, TV and music integrated into the system before its final public launch.”
So basically, the SteamOS will be able to do everything Microsoft claimed the Xbox One could do... and then some.
The Xbox One is getting buried alive just in Steam Machine announcements alone. I mean, the iBuyPower Steam Machine offers a great deal in terms of what you get spec-wise for the price. The CyberPowerPC Steam Machine also completely destroys the Xbox One as far as raw performance goes. And we haven't even seen what the rest of the machines will be like (as far as the nitty-gritty details go).
But coupling the aforementioned $499 Steam Machines with a public SteamOS that contains movie and TV streaming, music options and media content library support not only destroys the Xbox One, but it buries it six feet under just the same as the Undertaker burying Mankind at their 1996 match at In Your House.
One of the reasons the SteamOS is so feature-complete is that it brings all the heavy optimizations from a console platform to PC, as well as leaving the core system open enough for any and all kinds of support that current Linux developers can add on top of the Steam app.
What's worse – for Microsoft – is that the Xbox One is not feature-complete. Custom soundtracks require a workaround, streaming content from your PC requires a workaround, the system can't stream web content natively (unless you do so with an added Hulu or Netflix subscription, on top of your Xbox Live subscription) and the system doesn't support all media formats right out of the box.
By all accounts, Microsoft has an uphill battle on their hands at this point because they're being outclassed by the PS4 and Wii U as far as pure-gaming goes, and the Steam Machine is not only aiming for pure-gaming but also an all-in-one media entertainment hub as well.
There's no one area where Microsoft has an advantage in the living room entertainment space.
The execs at the Redmond corporation better come up with a quick plan to resuscitate their latest platform, like Republican golden boy Herman Cain found ways to get serious about cheating on his wife, before they get completely eviscerated throughout 2014 by their unrelenting and unforgiving competition.