At about this time today (5:00 pm EST) 300 individuals in the United States will get an email from Valve Software announcing that they are one of the lucky few to get a Steam Machine. The beta quality Steam Machines and Steam Controllers will be shipped to those 300 testers beginning on Friday, according to Valve's announcement today. The system will support a selection of games that currently are capable of running on Steam OS, which will be added to users' libraries.
Valve wanted to extend the beta beyond the borders of the United States but said that regulatory hurdles stopped them from being able to do that.
"This was not our original plan, and it means we can't collect beta feedback from Steam customers world-wide, which is pretty unfortunate," Valve said in its announcement. "All things considered, we're sure it was the right decision, because the alternative was to delay the whole beta beyond the point when we'd be able to incorporate any feedback into the 2014 products."
For more details and some shots of the systems and controllers being extended, check out Valve's announcement here.