In the first of three scheduled announcements for this week, Steam has unveiled a free operating system designed for the living room that the company promises will combine the rock-solid architecture of Linux with a gaming experience built for the big screen. It’ll be a combination of Steam’s current platform and Linux and according to company brass, there are hundreds of titles in the pipeline for next year.

With SteamOS, Valve said they have achieved significant performance increases in graphics processing. Moving forward, they are working on audio performance and reductions in latency at the operating system level.  The company said developers are already taking advantage of these gains as they target SteamOS for their new releases.

In addition to the new operating system, the company announced four new features that will be available for the current Steam platform in addition to SteamOS: family sharing, streaming, parental restrictions and options for media like movies and music.

SteamOS will be available soon as a free download for users and as a freely licensable operating system for manufacturers. The company encouraged fans to stay tuned in the coming days for more information.

With one announcement down and the foundation laid, one has to expect that at least one of the two pending announcements will be hardware-related. Talk of a Steam Box has been brewing for close to a year now and it’s no secret that Valve chief Gabe Newell intends to take on next generation consoles from Sony and Microsoft head-on.

The next announcement is expected to come on Wednesday at 1pm Eastern.