Valve's been hard at work on upgrades to the Steam client recently, and that means testing those upgrades before they roll out and break your launcher. Normal stuff, right? Anyway, to that end they need more people to test it, so they're asking for that—and making it easier to do so, with a new one-click opt-in to testing.
"We're introducing a one-click opt-in, to make it easy for you to try out all the new features and provide feedback. Once the features ship to everyone on Steam, your client will be updated to the latest public version available," said Valve in an announcement (opens in new tab).
Steam's big public beta includes a revamped game overlay and notifications system. One system lets you use a whole new notes app, which you can use to record info about your game that'll be synced across your Steam clients. Great for those of us who like to keep a to-do list for their gaming. There's also a brand new toolbar and game overview in there.
The big one for many is the new transparent window overlay system (opens in new tab). That lets you pin windows from the overlay so that they'll appear on top of the game while you're in-game, with adjustable opacity. You can use that to keep notes or a guide over your game while you play, or... just watch movies. The system for notifications and the screenshot manager have also been reworked to be quite a bit nicer. Hardware acceleration also works for Mac and Linux users now, which is a good reason to try out this beta.
The existing beta testers have been invaluable, says Valve, producing some great tweaks to the in-progress features. Those include a spell check toggle and cloud sync for game notes, a find-in-page (that's your classic "ctrl-f") for the web browser, soundtrack controls, enhancements to the controller configurator, and a "large hill of bug fixes" next to a "medium-sized hill of visual fixes and improvements."
In addition to those upcoming upgrades, Steam's search bar just got a lot better (opens in new tab) Valve also won't let developers clutter up their screenshot gallery with like twenty trailers (opens in new tab), which is one of my personal nightmares and a sure-fire sign that I will immediately navigate away from a game's store page.
If you don't care about that, well, you can at least give some sympathy to our poor Wes Fenlon, who has become an old man and cannot get used to Steam's new menus (opens in new tab), or Lauren Morton, whose great inconvenience is that she ain't sure where her screenshots done got to (opens in new tab).