Valve is making some significant changes to Steam that will mean faster downloads and seriously streamlined updates.
I've never made a secret of the fact that I don't like Steam. The sales are great but for those of us whose internet connections are just a couple of steps above yelling and throwing things, the downloading and updating process is absolutely torturous. But some recent updates to the system, which provide more bandwidth and eliminates the need to download whole, huge files as part of game updates, promises to take all that pain away.
"The maximum aggregate bandwidth of the system will be greater than the current system; this will help us satisfy spikes in demand when there's a big release," Valve said in a news release on Steam. "We will also be able to send content from more places, to better serve people all around the globe. All the content on the new system is sent via HTTP; this is more firewall-friendly than the current system, and will automatically take advantage of web-caching proxies installed at ISPs."
"Another way that the new content system improves the bandwidth picture is by requiring each user to download less data," the statement explains. "With the Steam content system that's been in place for a few years now, if an individual file on disk were modified by a game update, your client had to download the whole file. That can be painful when the file in question is really large. The new system supports delivering only the differences between the old and new files, meaning game updates will be much smaller overall."
And that's not all! The new system will allow for other refinements as well, including the long-awaited download scheduling, bandwidth throttling and update prioritization; we'll also finally be able to update a game while we're playing it, with the update applied after the game session is over. Currently only a limited selection of content is available via the new system but Valve said it will increase that amount "over time." That's some very good news indeed for Steam users stuck with crappy internet connections.