Version 2.0 of Steam, Valve's online content delivery thingy, has been released and is now subject to the widespread testing of hundreds of thousands of eager people who think that come September 30th a big button will light up saying "Half-Life 2". Or something.
Chances are it won't, but even so, signing up to Steam for free is probably quite a good idea, because it's the only place for now that you can get hold of the long-awaited Counter-Strike 1.6 beta. And what better way to spend that lunch hour than trying desperately to bind some sort of buy command to the comma button while your elitist so-called team-mates stand there shooting you to death so they can retrieve the bomb? God, we love Counter-Strike.
At the moment it's a bit iffy in places, but it is only a beta. Over the weekend we had trouble getting CS 1.6 (we had to restart it a couple of times), then trouble getting CS to load servers (it sat there "verifying" all sorts of things for hours) and subsequently trouble getting the game to run at all (it crashed), but we're told that's probably because it doesn't like some aspect of our hardware config. Well, crumbs, CS 1.5 worked fine. Is that not similar?
The good news is that Steam's got all sorts of Friends features and GameSpy/All-Seeing Eye-esque search functionality, so you can find plenty of other people to spar with when you do eventually get it working, and you can also download CS multiplayer and Half-Life in its entirety without a working Half-Life installation of your own. Which is a bit like piracy, only not.