Well of course! I mean the Steambox is a modular PC. You can put your own parts in it (from what I've read online). So you can put some beastly AMD or Nvidia card, SSD, uber processor. It's custom, and therefore a different income model. The mainstream video game consoles are built differently so that M$ and $ony can sell them as cheaply by volume and still get the "next gen" thingie.
I am very interested in the steambox platform, but right now with it's lack of mainstream media usage (netflix, pictures, videos from my phone, ect), it's in a different classification from a PS4/X1. After all, why not just build a gaming rig that hooks up to your TV? You can still steam it, but also have your regular OS that can do the rest of the stuff that SteamOS can't do.
It's going to be interesting to see if the folks behind it are able to differentiate themselves from Sony, MS, and even Nintindo in this current game cycle. Lord knows, we need more competition!
Pardon me while I got play some games on my phone =P
If you want, you can dual boot. You can build your own Steam Machine and put Steam OS on it. They're even going to release the CAD specs so you can build a case exactly like theirs.
You can also buy a low end Steam Machine to stream games from your gaming rig.
Steam Machine will work with netflix, etc. Steam OS will be open source, so there is no limit to its potential. I don't really use Microsoft Office. The only reason I'm married to Windows is Direct X.
I'm looking for some Steam Machines with AMD processors and Radeon cards that will not only blow away Xbox One and PS4 in performance, but also undercut their prices by 50-100$.
Plus Steam Machine will launch with a catalog that's 300 games large. No other next gen console can claim that.
The big obstacle will be getting directx to work on a linux platform, but I'm pretty sure they're going to fix that, which will bring the Steam Machine's catalog to over 3000 games.
Also, the ultimate in backwards compatibility. I can play games that are 3 generations old on my pc, if I choose to do so.
Console manufacturers don't use specialized hardware to save money. It actually costs them extra to do so. They're taking a loss on the hardware. They do it so they can keep their share of the market on lockdown. It won't be just Steam making Steam Machines, it will be multiple manufacturers producing them, and they will be in competition with each other. I expect there to be Asus Steam Machines, Gateway Steam Machines, etc.
And yes, you can upgrade them if you choose to do so. I won't be buying one, but I will be going dual boot once Steam OS will play Direct X games.