The Steam Review

Comment and discussion on Valve Software’s digital communications platform.

Steam Winter Update next week

Guest passes, 'ease-of-use upgrades' :: January 5th, 2007 :: Steam updates :: 20 Responses
Steam Winter Update interface
The new interface is based on the third-party Flat Series skin.

Another dry spell of Steam news is coming to an end. Next week will see the release of the “Steam Winter Update”, the first such ‘seasonal’ release and a departure from Valve’s previously iterative release schedule.

There’s plenty going on, with the press release highlighting some key features:

New User Interface
Steam’s got a new coat of paint. We’ve stripped away all the non-essentials and created a new streamlined appearance, available in five different colors.
Steam’s catalog of games has grown quite a bit over the past year or so. The new Favorites feature in the My Games tab of Steam allows for quick access to your favorite Steam games and additional functionality for personalizing your Steam library of content.
Background Client Updates
Since the Steam client was first released, it has always kept itself up to date — but now it’ll do so without making you wait during startup. Instead, it will acquire new updates in the background and then (once they’re downloaded) ask if you’d like to restart and apply them. Steam will also let you know what’s new whenever a new update is ready to apply.
Guest Passes
Guest Passes allow owners of certain Steam games (purchased either via Steam or at retail) to let their friends play games for free, for a limited time trial. The first game to take advantage of this new feature will be Day of Defeat: Source.

We’ll be hearing more and seeing screenshots in just a few hours as part of today’s weekly Steam news, and I’ll provide a direct link as soon as one becomes available. Here it is. The new interface is based on the community member-made Flat series – I wonder how much the author has made from Valve’s adoption of his work!

As was mentioned, the fact that all of these new features are being released in one go is unusual–Steam’s updates have in the past been almost entirely iterative. When a new feature was finished and tested, it was generally released there and then, on its own. The best explanation I can find for this apparent change of heart is that there is even more going on than the press release suggests: behind the scenes, this Winter Update may well be the long-awaited one that brings the Steam client’s underlying code to version 3.0.

20 Responses to this post:


  1. Zips Says:

    Fully bringing it to 3.0?

    … Naaaw.

  2. Andy Simpson Says:

    Huh. The “New interface” looks an awful lot like the flat Steam skin!

  3. Andy Simpson Says:

    Hehe, thinking about it… I wonder if Steam is now using Flat officially because the majority of Valve staff were using it internally?

  4. Tom Edwards Says:

    I wouldn’t blame them if they were. It’s been a great skin, despite the occasional glitches after updates.

  5. Alex Says:

    I like the idea of Steam telling you what’s changing and whether you’d like to apply the update right away as well as incorporating that skin.

    Now if only Friends would start working in-game for me again. 🙁

  6. wizpig64 Says:

    I hope they get offline mode actually working. I recently had an internet outage. I got through the third Halo book tho. 🙂

  7. random_n Says:

    I wonder how much the author has made from Valve’s adoption of his work!

    Well, let’s just say that a Lamborghini is not in my near future. I suppose it’s for the better, though — there’s an awful lot of potholes where I live!

    And only the third book, wizpig? Tsk tsk… you’d better hurry up and pick up the fourth one. Halo 3 isn’t that far off, you know! 😀

  8. ATimson Says:

    Unless he plays on PC, not Xbox. In that case, he needs to wait for Halo 2 to come out first… and he’s in exactly the right place bookwise for it. 😉

  9. RP Says:

    Valve ask Random_n, the guy who created the flat skin to
    use it, and he got, well, nothing 😛
    He was asked about this in steampowered forums:

    “Curses? Naw, the guys at Valve were nice enough to ask first, and I think it’s pretty freakin’ cool to have something I made go out to millions of people. It really puts the ~20,000 views at FPSBanana to shame.

    … though in retrospect, I probably should’ve haggled for a free copy of Episode 2 or something.”

  10. Film11 Says:

    I approve of this update!

    Flat is much better, and combined with 3.0’s usability it should be a great combo. The new colours are also good.

  11. wizpig64 Says:

    Yes I should order the fourth one soon, I’m blazing through this one.

    I looked in my Steam settings menu and found that I have the flat skin. It looks way different than the screenshots though, is there an newer version?

  12. Lunchtimemama Says:

    Client updates have been few and far between as of late. This new client update background download and notification system tends to suggest a greater frequency of client updates to come.

  13. Lunchtimemama Says:

    Also also: the new friends icon (visible here) seems to be the multiplayer icon from the storefront (here under “Game details”).

  14. dyzlex!K Says:

    As well, the servers icon is right from the default Photoshop shapes. Doesnt matter to me though.

  15. Kapitein iglo Says:

    Update is released, restart your steam to get it (for the last time i presume)! 😀

  16. hahnchen Says:

    I like the new UI, although I was hoping for more functionality.

    I mean, now we can have a favourites group, but where’s the drag and drop? Steam has been screaming out for this for absolutely ages. Why not give users the ability to create their own groups?

    A “Manage Guest Passes” button next to the “Activate product” button on the bottom would have been a lot easier to find for newbs, even if its a bit redundant with them showing up on the main games list.

  17. timmy Says:

    how come steam will not update when i wanna play counter strike. ??????

  18. Tom Edwards Says:

    Because it’s already up to date?

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