Steam receives a makeover with all-new UI, begins open beta

In a long awaited move, Valve has revealed its plans for a brand new version of Steam, its digital distribution and social networking service.

"We made hundreds of changes to the Steam client as a result of customer feedback on the interface, performance, and functionality," said John Cook, Director of Steam Development at Valve. "For example, we swapped out the Internet Explorer rendering engine with WebKit, which gives us a bunch of size, stability and performance benefits. This release of Steam leaves us well prepared for another year of strong growth."

Some of the major improvements include the following:

  • Complete overhaul of Steam client UI design to improve discoverability of features and to better expose all the information related to games in your library
  • Complete overhaul of in-game overlay UI design to create a richer in-game experience exposing context sensitive information related to the game you are currently playing
  • New game details view, presenting a detailed view of all the information for a single game in your library
  • New grid view, presenting a graphical view of your game library
  • New news page in the store/client/overlay which aggregates from Valve related news sites, official community groups, and third-party gaming news feeds
  • New downloads view in the client, making it easier to track your progress downloading new games or game updates
  • New Steam store design, including more integrated community features, improved recommendations, and improved video and screenshots viewing (and much more!)

This opt-in beta is available immediately to all Steam users.  Users who have Steam installed on their computer can take part in the beta by clicking this link and then selecting "UI Update" under Beta Participation.

WARNING: Users are reporting loss of game files (Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 – Multiplayer in particular). Opt into the UI beta at your own discretion.

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Do you like the new Steam UI?

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To opt out of the beta run steam with "steam.exe -clearbeta"

This is especially handy if it causes crash on start, like it did last night before the first update.

Dipso said,
To opt out of the beta run steam with "steam.exe -clearbeta"

This is especially handy if it causes crash on start, like it did last night before the first update.

Nice thanks :)

Just started using it, and its not bad, but its a true beta, not just an "exclusive preview" beta. Bugs galore (Some buttons broken, web browser bugs, steam overlay breaking), so bear this in mind before you opt-in.

By the way, how does one opt back out of this beta?

:: Lyon :: said,
Thanks to the new UI, it shows how I've wasted 170 hours of my life playing Left 4 Dead 2 *sob*

There are people with over 500 hours, think yourself lucky :P

Not bad at all, Steam has been in need of an overhaul for a while now and I'm happy to see it's finally getting it :)

I really like the new UI. The main thing I want to see added before the final is the ability to add images and details to non-Steam games I've added to Steam to use as shortcuts to make things more uniform. Other than that and the excess space around the Friends list and its great. :D

Yeah this looks nice but while it is in beta, I wouldn't touch it. I know some people have game libraries worth more than $300 and I know they won't risk it.

If Steam comes to Mac and Linux (especially Linux), I'll get rid of Windows instantly. Especially since I bet they'll port their own games before they launch that. TF2 on Linux would be amazing.

I opted into the UI beta but quickly opted out. It removed my MW2 MP game files. I had to re-download it, 11GB and all. I liked the improvements they've made. I especially like the new overlay UI. It actually shows the time on the top left-hand corner. The update news is a nice touch, so is seeing the download progress for any game you're updating.

Best of all, the browser no longer uses IE's trident engine. It's much snappier and the new layout looks really good. The only thing I didn't like was the size. I prefer the smaller "mini" Steam window. I'm not sure if it's available in the new UI. If not, then I hope they add it.

Anaron said,
I opted into the UI beta but quickly opted out. It removed my MW2 MP game files. I had to re-download it, 11GB and all. I liked the improvements they've made. I especially like the new overlay UI. It actually shows the time on the top left-hand corner. The update news is a nice touch, so is seeing the download progress for any game you're updating.

Best of all, the browser no longer uses IE's trident engine. It's much snappier and the new layout looks really good. The only thing I didn't like was the size. I prefer the smaller "mini" Steam window. I'm not sure if it's available in the new UI. If not, then I hope they add it.

I've been saying this to people before they OPTin to the beta, back up your steamapps folder before accepting the beta because it starts redownloading everything. There is a quick fix where you just copy your steamapps folder back after starting the beta and getting steam to validate the files then the games work fine.

Ugh! It's STILL using that godawful non-standard user interface. I don't care about the layout of the pages inside it, I just want it to look like a Windows application!!

FloatingFatMan said,
Ugh! It's STILL using that godawful non-standard user interface. I don't care about the layout of the pages inside it, I just want it to look like a Windows application!!
I don't think that's really possible tbh. Steam is built around a website, which gives the visual cues for the program. It's also pretty much nothing like other programs on Windows - it's a hub as opposed to an "editor". I agree that it would be nice to have a more standard UI that has better performance, but I don't see a way that it can really be done.

Kirkburn said,
I don't think that's really possible tbh. Steam is built around a website, which gives the visual cues for the program. It's also pretty much nothing like other programs on Windows - it's a hub as opposed to an "editor". I agree that it would be nice to have a more standard UI that has better performance, but I don't see a way that it can really be done.

You can display web content in an app that uses the standard window decorator. Otherwise things like web browsers would look very different from other applications.

As much as I admire the new steam UI, I don't like the fact that now in order to play my games I have to open a browser size image of it rather than just having it neatly tucked on the bottom right out of the way where I can just select the game title instead of viewing everything.

It only took me reading the title to quickly go to settings in steam and opt n for the new ui beta :P

damn the old steam ui must be one of the ugliest ever

For those who are having problems with your games being deleted. Copy your 'Steamapps' folder, let the program start downloading the game. Stop it then recopy the 'Steamapps' folder back and check the games 'integrity', this will cause Steam to check the 'Steamapps' folder and it will save you from redownloading your games again. Also, you need to do this before you opin to the Steam UI beta or it'll delete your files.

I didn't realise this until I did it, but I had a copy of my Steam folder on another hard drive and just did the above.

Capric0rn said,
I like the new UI a lot. Though I do have 1 problem which is absent menu items inside menus :S

A fix has been found and posted on the Steam Community forums: http://forums.steampowered.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1159147.

Basically, it involves changing the name of the font in the window styles from "Arial Bold" (which appears to be unavailable on some systems) to something else such as "Arial" (or even "Segoe UI" or "Calibri" if you like!).

Edited by Calculator, Feb 24 2010, 1:25pm :

Oh Em Gee.
I had an orgasm.

It's so slick and sexy. (since they used a Zune approach)

Plus it might come to Mac. That was the 2nd orgasm. Because if it does, I'm saying bye to Windows.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. said,
Oh Em Gee.
I had an orgasm.

It's so slick and sexy. (since they used a Zune approach)

Plus it might come to Mac. That was the 2nd orgasm. Because if it does, I'm saying bye to Windows.


Yea because steam coming to mac also means all the games magically all of a sudden are programmed for osx... right? ehm no...

I just hope they improve the backup and restore process. I don't have that many games but on my quad core it takes a day to perform a restore with the client frequently freezing up.

Yeah I have around 150 games. Last time i tried to do a restore it fell on its butt and started downloading them instead. Monthly bandwidth quota went realll fast.

Now days I just copy and paste the steam apps directory.

Hmm ok, it now opens up seperate mini browser windows when middle clicking games in the store. Not as nice as tabbed browsing would be, but better than nothing.

Still no tabbed browsing support?

So annoying not being able to middle-click games in one of the lists to open them in tabs.

Tech Star said,
I also thought it looked like the Zune UI. Not a big fan of it, but looks good on Steam.

Indeed it looks good on Steam. :-)

dead.cell said,

lol, because it takes so long to beat it. :P

Well that includes Multiplayer... Deleted cache and redownloading, hopefully that fixes it.

fAlCoNNiAn said,
Yup. Killed my MW2.

Two solutions.

If the download hasn't started verify the cache and it should realise nothing needs downloading.

If it has started downloading then pause the update, delete all local content and reinstall from DVD if you didn't buy through Steam. If you did then you are out of luck and will just have to allow download or wait until a fix.

CrossCheck said,

well maybe if you backed up your games folder you wouldn't need to re-download it


For some people that is not an option. I have a backup but my games folder is in excess of 600Gb. That said I'm going to dive in and test it, I have a very fast connection and I'll just try to reverify files before redownloading.

martinDTanderson said,
If you're gonna do a Zune UI, you need a decent font!

I change it to Segoe UI :)
I had font problem with Arial Bold. I change it to Segoe UI in /steam/ressource/style/steam.styles

Avangelon said,
It really needs a mini-mode. Can't stand the full blown screen JUST to launch a game.

True, im not a big fan of the new games list and video autoplay on the game's store page.

Edited by Doli, Feb 24 2010, 6:12am :

The old one has a mini mode? Click the horizontal arror at the top right and it collapses into a list of just your games. If your list is too long right click the ones you want and select "Add to favorites" and then collapse the "Installed", "Tools" and "Not Installed" lists.

Not sure if the new one has it or not but I imagine so.

Edited by Smigit, Feb 24 2010, 7:55am :

Also, icons for the individual games are put in the Start menu so you don't even have to see the Steam client window at all.

Smigit said,
The old one has a mini mode? Click the horizontal arror at the top right and it collapses into a list of just your games. If your list is too long right click the ones you want and select "Add to favorites" and then collapse the "Installed", "Tools" and "Not Installed" lists.

Not sure if the new one has it or not but I imagine so.


The collapse button works fine, but it doesn't save your window state between sessions, which is what they need to fix. If I collapse my game list, I want it to come up collapsed the next time i turn steam on. It has never done that, and it's annoying.

I just tested it and it worked for me. In the "Interface" settings change the Favorite Window to "Games" then go to the shrunken view.

Quit and relaunch steam and it'll open to the collapsed games view.

Doli said,
Looky looky, Mac buttons were found
http://forums.steampowered.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1157656

None of the games run in osx. its probably just layouts for a theme lol

tablet_user said,

None of the games run in osx. its probably just layouts for a theme lol

None of the games now...

Doli said,

None of the games now...

Exactly, why do people keep making stupid comments.

Why on earth would Steam currently have Mac OS games :S

tablet_user said,

None of the games run in osx. its probably just layouts for a theme lol
That's not true. Steam sells games that have MacOS versions, needless to say they aren't sold ON Steam, because that would be retarded, but they are out there.. That's not to say it's some massive number, because it isn't, but it makes this a possible move.