The Steam In-Home Streaming is a nifty thing. It lets you “stream” the audio and video from a game from one computer in your house to another. For me this means I can stream a Windows-only game from my Windows PC to my Linux laptop and play away. This works surprisingly well. The only down side of this is that the Windows PC cannot run the game in the background and allow someone else to use the computer at the same time.
The streaming doesn’t really know what it’s streaming - it just monitors the application that has been launched and dutifully streams the A/V stream to the other end. This allows us to have a bit of fun! In the Steam Client you can add non-Steam games to your library - this is useful if you want to use Steam as a central launch point for all your games - but there’s nothing stopping you from adding oh I don’t know let’s say c:\windows\system32\cmd.exe as one of your “games”, then you can simply stream it from your remote computer.
To do this:
- Log onto Steam on your Windows PC
- Go to the Games menu and choose “Add a Non-Steam Game to My Library…”
- In the box that comes up (it’s a bit slow as it lists all applications installed on your computer) click Browse
- Browse to (or type in) c:\windows\system32\cmd.exe and click OK.
You’ll now see “cmd” in your Library.
Now start up Steam on your other computer - log in with the same Steam account as you are using on your Windows PC. If things are working you’ll see a message saying “In-Home Streaming - Connected to xxxx” (where xxxx is your Windows computer). Have a look in the game library and you’ll see “cmd”. Click on it and instead of a “Play” button there’s a “Stream” button. Go ahead …. stream the application.
This should start a command window on the remote computer and show it on your local desktop - in my case Steam decided to stretch it to full screen size (a fair assumption for a “game”). I was delighted when at the prompt I typed “explorer”, hit enter and a few seconds later the entire remote desktop appeared on my local desktop, along with the cmd window I started in the first place. To terminate the session I closed the cmd window.
Presumably you could use this method to stream other applications that you simply cannot run on Linux or Mac (e.g. MYOB?). Or even sharing a single license application amongst multiple computers. Granted, using Steam is probably not the sanest way to do this.
Here’s a video of the streaming in action: