Come to think of it, I can't really see any reason I'd need Steam OS, other than the 10 foot interface, which the Steam application already has.
Steam OS currently has no use for a moderately capable PC user, its creation is a preventative measure.
If Microsoft continues it's current trend* towards an app store model and subscription model for Windows it will be very bad for High-end PC gaming in general, and Steam in particular.
Steam is basically equivalent to an app store, and the one thing app stores don't carry is... other app stores, so you end up with a distribution issue.
Microsoft REALLY wants to be able to tell people that they can get everything they need for their PCs through the Windows App Store(and only through the Windows App Store)
, where they take either a cut of initial sale price, or a percentage of any in-application transactions, so they should
want Steam in the store, but Valve very much doesn't want to split its profits with Microsoft.
Valve is worried about being shut out of future versions of Windows due to that desire to be a stand-alone marketplace, and Steam OS is how they're hedging their bets. BUT, building an OS from scratch is a non-trivial undertaking... so they base it on an established operating system, Linux.
The SteamBoxes are really more of a marketing tool than anything else, something has to be done to encourage Linux game development/ports. So Valve basically says: "Port to Linux via Steam OS and we'll put massive financial support into opening up a new potential market for your product - Gamers scared away from PC gaming due to its high cost of entry** and/or high knowledge requirements"
Id rather just build my own PC and dual boot Windows and Steam OS instead of buying a prebuilt box to accomplish this.
The fact that you'd even consider dual-booting, hell the fact you know what a dual-boot IS, means you're not really the target market for a Steambox, but you are the reason SteamOS will be available stand-alone. You're also the reason SteamBoxes are required to be able to stream current library titles, but that's a separate topic. *Given the ongoing leadership changeover/controversies, I'm a bit hesitant to make any long predictions as to Microsofts plans.
**PC gaming is roughly the same financial cost in terms of price for performance as a console... once you have the initial machine. Its getting that first machine that keeps people out of the market. PC gaming is cheap enough to maintain, but a bear to start from scratch compared to console gaming Edited, Oct 4th 2013 11:11pm by sscearcev