Seeing that Valve just announced their Linux based SteamOS operating system, it is not a surprise that their second announcement pertains to hardware. Valve has announced that they will be working on releasing multiple, gaming-centric machines in collaboration with a host of partners by the beginning of 2014.
No concrete details regarding the specifications of the Steam Machines and the partners on board was revealed. But Valve did state that the hardware will be available in different configurations and sold at different price points.
Furthermore, the source code for SteamOS will be made available and users will be allowed to tinker with their Steam machine in anyway they please. This is quite a deviation from the strategy consoles have always adopted, where any home-brew installed on the console voids the warranty and has the probability of getting you in serious trouble.
Valve also plans to release 300 prototype Steam Machine units this year. If you are interested in signing up to be a beta tester the process is detailed on the Steam website. The launch date of the Steam Machines is just a few months after the next generation of consoles (PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One) enter the fray. It will be mighty interesting to see how a Steam Machines fare against the other gaming consoles.
Valve is scheduled to make one more announcement before the end of the week. Seeing that they've got operating system and hardware covered, perhaps the last thing to be revealed will gaming titles?