Valve expands Steam delivery platform beyond games

Steam's Valve platform enjoys an installed base of more than 40 million users

Hoping to break out from the confines of the gaming community, computer game distributor Valve will start hosting non-gaming programs on its Steam software-downloading and maintenance service.

Starting on Sept. 5, Steam will host a number of applications that aren't games, according to a company blog item posted Wednesday. Though no titles were mentioned, Valve stated that a range of software would be offered through the platform, including both creativity and productivity apps.

Steam is not often thought of as a cloud service, but it has proved to be an effective digital distribution platform, one for managing the process of downloading and installing software on Windows, Macintosh and -- available soon -- Linux computers. Thus far, more than 40 million gamers have used the software to download Valve and third-party games. In 2011, Steam was used to download more than 780PB of gaming software, almost double the amount downloaded the year prior.

The Steam platform could provide many additional features for software companies to distribute their wares. The software has DRM (digital rights management) to control copying of software across multiple computers, and a mechanism to push updates to the purchased software. Users can peruse new titles in an online store. The service will also offer a hosted storage service, where users could save their work or configuration settings.

After the Sept. 5 launch of the initial set of titles, Valve will add more software titles on an ongoing basis. Developers can submit their programs through Stream Greenlight, a community site where Steam users pick releases they would like to see distributed on the platform.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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