Today Valve has unveiled a new beta update for Steam that brings along a massive interface change for 2010. Right now you have to opt in to this update like you do with previous beta updates (Steam -> Settings -> Beta Participation). The update changes almost every aspect of Steam, from the Store to your game Library. The only thing that seems to be untouched is the Steam Community interface, which now looks outdated and out of place.
This new update is very shiny – fonts glow, and the designers have made heavy use of the gradient tool. Your Library’s default view now gives you a more store-like page on the right to make much more efficient use of the window. Almost like Facebook, there is a new feed that shows you friends who have recently purchased games and earned important achievements. You can now see achievement details, recent news updates and friends who are playing, or have been recently playing the game. The whole aim of this new interface is to make it easier to interact with friends.
But Those who fear the new and exciting do not worry, Steam is thinking of you still and have left in a Library view mode that is very similar to the old one.
The Steam store now looks much more modern. You can view videos on their own page, scroll through photos and quickly access the forums. Downloads can now be tracked on their own page that gives you current download rate and a better estimate of when you can expect to be done downloading and get to the playing.
Overall most users will probably be pleased by the update, and the Steam forums are reflecting this. The only major issues i have are the two crashes ive experienced so far. If you happen to hate this update dont worry, you can revert to the old Steam your used to, that is until they roll this out for real.
For me the update has helped with some problems. After an update in December I was unable to redeem gifts or download demos from Steam, this has now been fixed. Steam now has its own window for viewing game screenshots, something which up until now has launched in an instance of Internet Explorer, which was extremely slow to load and buggy.