Steam client gets a major UI update, open beta available

By on February 24, 2010, 9:28 AM
Game publisher and digital distribution giant Valve has just pulled the curtain on a completely redesigned version of Steam. Available as an opt-in beta, the updated client is said to bring "hundreds of changes" aimed at improving the user interface, performance and functionality of the digital download service.


Some of the most notable improvements include an expanded Friends List to let players keep closer tabs on what their contacts are playing, a new in-game overlay design with more context sensitive information, redesigned Steam store, and several other UI changes that should improve the discoverability of features and better expose all the information related to games in your library. They've also swapped out the Internet Explorer web browser rendering engine with the faster and more stable WebKit.

A full rundown of the new features can be found at the Steam website. To grab the beta you need to have the current Steam client installed, go to File>Settings, click "change" under Beta participation, and then choose UI Update. The beta should download automatically and will be available after restarting the client.




User Comments: 20

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gobbybobby said:

The beta is great, but following the forums today some have had issues with the beta removing games clean off the harddrive, its not many, but I reccomend backing games u don't wanna download again up. I love the new interface, its modern user freindly and easy to use. I love the new games tab, it has accivements, game update news and a list of freinds that play the game all in 1 window. the new download manager is also good, that said I would like to see a bandwidth limit option. (like in Utorrent.)

Can't wait for it to go live!

Docnoq said:

All the changes seem quite interesting.. might give this a shot when I get home

superTramp92 said:

I doubt the improved performance is referring to in game performance but still i wonder....

If anything, i'm happy with the fact that they went with webkit instead of the ie engine.

EXCellR8 EXCellR8, The Conservative, said:

Won't download the beta, but I'm thrilled to see they actually changed the layout after all these years. I've been on Steam since 2004 and I'm glad to see the dated layout go...

Guest said:

I was kind of tired of the current Steam store interface. It's great news something new is coming.

You might want also check different games' online stores to avoid being completely dependable on Steam/Valve.

Try these ones out:

1. EA Store

http://eastore.ea.com/

2. Impulse

http://www.impulsedriven.com/

3. GameSpy Comrade

http://comrade.gamespy.com/

4. EBGames

http://www.ebgames.com/

5. Games for Windows LIVE

http://www.microsoft.com/games/EN-US/LIVE/Pages/livejoin.aspx

Cheers!

Guest said:

Steam just got Zune'd

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

You forgot D2D, Guest:

http://www.direct2drive.com/

Guest said:

@TomSEA

This one is a great one I forgot to mention.

Thank you very much!

Have a great day!

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

No problem, Guest. I try and buy games from all of these vendors to spread the wealth. Steam seems to have the smoothest operation, but they all end up providing the same service.

Guest said:

@TomSEA

One day I saw something like 1.7 million users, some playing, others just online, and I thought that we are, probably, facing a "monopoly" in games digital distribution on the web; something I really does not support.

Hope people realize that and other companies start looking at that, because it's going to explode in the coming years as a great opportunity that Steam captured the idea years ago.

In fact, I really like to open the box for every new game I buy, like the old days for CDs, i.e. removing the factory plastic, putting the CD to play and taking a look at the inside booklet, something very difficult today with almost everything being "downloadable" (music, games, videos, applications, etc.).

Cheers!

PS.: sorry if I got off topic! hehehe...

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I'm with ya about 50% Guest. I do miss the old box days, but having my product available to me on any PC, automatic patch updates, friends listings, special offerings - hard to beat that. What I miss most about a boxed game is the users manual and any additions like maps. Now you have to print that off and if it's in color, kills off your color printer cartridges. For example, I just pre-ordered Silent Hunter V and the .pdf manual is 150 pages long! Thank goodness I have a nice color printer at work.

Timonius Timonius said:

oh man, I have to comment now (as a bit of a Steam fan). WAY TO DITCH IE!!!!!! WOO HOOO!!!!

Relic Relic, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Nice update; enjoying the new store layout but the game library is a little over the top for me personally. Also I appear to be one of the unlucky ones who is experiencing serious performance issues as it's really sluggish for me and using a lot of my system resources. Still prefer Xfire though as my game tracker and IM =X .

On a side note, am I the only one who still buys retail games? I love having a boxed version for my game collection and I don't see why some of you have difficulty finding games (buy online?). I do like digital distribution for discounted or old games as its great, but I won't buy new games at full price from them as I'm getting less for the same imo.

Timonius Timonius said:

Relic said:

On a side note, am I the only one who still buys retail games? I love having a boxed version for my game collection and I don't see why some of you have difficulty finding games (buy online?). I do like digital distribution for discounted or old games as its great, but I won't buy new games at full price from them as I'm getting less for the same imo.

I hear you on this. The newly released games should be much cheaper for digital distribution (but does that then hurt the retail stores? Not if they don't offer much for PCs anyways - they're all about consoles). I only buy retail boxed games very occasionally because I prefer to not have the 'waste' of oversized packaging lying around. But I usually don't buy brand new games (with the exception of TOR coming out sometime next year) due to cost. I'm not into the 'early adoption' crowd when it comes to new technologies. I guess the bottom line for me is price.

Richy2k9 said:

hello ...

would need to try that one, still i wonder if will now have better downloading speed. Everything else goes fast, except Steam

cheers!

isamuelson isamuelson said:

Tried this last night and ran into the dreaded issue of the steam install crashing 27% into the update process. It has something to do with the update process under Windows 7 causing issues. The only way to fix it was to wait after it crashed and then double click on the desktop Steam icon and then it would complete.

Overall, not bad, but I couldn't get any news items or anything.

Guest said:

Hopefully they aren't ruining my CS 1.6 install on W7x64 again - like the last time as my steam was updated and had to do a total steam reinstall including all other games :-/\

swilllx2p said:

Just like to add since its not pointed out in the article or any of the comments, they also fixed a problem with direct x 11 that caused some people running a dx11 card and a game that supports it to crash to desktop randomly. I'm going to the beta for this exact reason, as I've been having this happen.

swilllx2p said:

Richy2k9 said:

hello ...

would need to try that one, still i wonder if will now have better downloading speed. Everything else goes fast, except Steam

cheers!

weird.. My download speeds are always around 1.5MB with steam. I see that as pretty good.

Guest said:

the day they stop relesing retail games on disks that i can hold and have is the day i stop being a gamer............i cant stand the thought of just renting a game (pretty much what you do with all digi dist) if i have a box with a disk and a key they cant just close there servers one day and say sorry thanks for renting our games because i have a disk with the data on it and thats what i like because i colect them

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