If you are lucky to be one of the 300 selected beta testers of Valve's Steam Machine and its Linux-based SteamOS, you are in for an early Christmas present. You will soon receive the Steam hardware and SteamOS for testing. According to a post on the Steam Community website, Valve will ship the Steam Machines and Steam Controllers to beta testers soon.

The 300 lucky beta testers were notified Wednesday that they will soon receive the Steam hardware and SteamOS for testing. The machines will be shipped on Friday, December 13. The selected users will also be awarded a special badge on their Steam Community profile to indicate that they are a beta participant.

All the selected beta testers lives in the U.S. Greg Coomer, who works in design and communications at Valve, explained on the company website that regulatory hurdles prompted them to limit the beta to U.S. residents only.

"This was not our original plan, and it means we can't collect beta feedback from Steam customers world-wide, which is pretty unfortunate. All things considered, we're sure it was the right decision, because the alternative was to delay the whole beta beyond the point when we'd be able to incorporate any feedback into the 2014 products," he explained. Commer assured that the decision only affected the Valve's 300 prototype units and that the commercial versions of Steam Machines which will be available in 2014 won't be affected by it.

Meanwhile, the SteamOS will be available when the prototype hardware ships. It is believed, albeit not certain, that it will be available for download by individual users and commercial OEMs by December 13. Commer, however, recommended waiting until later in 2014 to try it out "unless you're an intrepid Linux hacker already".

According to Valve, the SteamOS will combine the rock-solid architecture of Linux with a gaming experience that is built for the big screen. The operating system will be available as a free download to users but per ZDnet, a very fast desktop is required to run it successfully. The operating system also needs a lot of memory.

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