Valve is one of those few profit making companies who know how to engage users and build community around their products from the early days. They are also known for keeping their products under limited beta testing unless it’s ready for prime time. So seems to be the case with Steam’s new feature, Family Sharing. After being in the limited Beta phase for about 5 months, Valve have finally decided that their product is ready for the world and thus have announced Family Sharing to be available for all Steam desktop client & Big Picture users.
The announcement came over the Steam Community Boards, where it was announced that the Family Sharing feature is now available to the general public. Through this feature, a single user can share his/her entire Steam Library with up to five family members over ten different devices. Once the members are authorized, they can play any or all of the game through their own accounts. The achievements, saves and other related records achieved by the gamer will be tied to the gamer’s individual account using cloud saves.
So, even if the owner has all of the achievement unlocked it won’t matter to the authorized user and vice versa. The only caveat is that apart from the owner the other members have to stay online while playing any of the games in the library. Also, if the owner is playing the game, the user can’t play the game. In addition, if the owner starts playing the game while the user is playing the game, the user is given a few minutes with the choice of either quitting or buying the full game. Not all the games support the sharing features though, as games requiring specific user details, like product keys or additional account validations, aren’t shared. Also, the sharing is done over the entire library rather than individual games.
Additional information on the sharing feature can be found over at the Product page with the FAQs.
Source: Steam Community