In a sudden, unexpected move, Valve has announced that Steam will now be a distribution platform for software beyond games. Here’s the important bit from the press release:

The Software titles coming to Steam range from creativity to productivity. Many of the launch titles will take advantage of popular Steamworks features, such as easy installation, automatic updating, and the ability to save your work to your personal Steam Cloud space so your files may travel with you.

More Software titles will be added in an ongoing fashion following the September 5th launch, and developers will be welcome to submit Software titles via Steam Greenlight.

Recently, Gabe Newell has voiced criticism on how the Windows App Store that would be included in Windows 8 had the potential to ruin PC gaming. While many of Newell’s criticisms were certainly valid, everyone suspected they were motivated in part by an irritation of having competition. Well, now we know for sure, as Steam will have to promote against an integrated market on PCs on not just games, but software that ranges “from creativity to productivity.”

Another surprise is that Steam Greenlight will now be used for vetting this new type of software as well.

While I love that Steam is my game center and am a little irritated that it would be more than that, I would probably be willing to try new software if it comes through a marketplace I’m already used to? What are your guys’ thoughts?

While the details of which software will be released haven’t been said, look for them come September 5th.