Valve's Steam hardware surveys have frequently provided an intriguing insight into the hardware people really use, and now the software developer plans to achieve the same feat with a software survey.
In much the same way as the hardware survey probes your machine's innards and sends the data back to Valve, the software survey will now note down any apps listed in the Programs and Features section in the Windows Control Panel. Basically, if you've installed it, the Steam software survey will probably pick it up.
Valve says the new survey will help the company "understand what else our customers are using their PCs to do, and as a result, what features we can deliver or leverage to make Steam and our games better."
The software developer also notes that all sorts of people, from software developers to PC manufacturers, will undoubtedly be interested in the information as well. Unlike download figures and sales stats, the software survey will show up which apps people are choosing to keep installed on their machines, as well as how often they update them.
Although the survey isn't currently available in the standard Steam client, it's now been added to the latest Beta client. You can download this by opening Steam, going to Settings in the View menu and then changing the Beta participation settings under the Account tab.
If you're worried about Valve snooping around your PC and harvesting your private software habits for a Big Brother-style database, then don't worry, as the participation is entirely optional.
Valve says the selection process for who gets surveyed is entirely random, and you'll "know you're part of the Survey because Steam will ask if you want to take part." The software developer also says that even if you do take part, the information will be gathered anonymously, and none of it will be associated with your Steam account.
Valve promises to share the first software stats with the world at the end of the month on its Stats page, and Mac OS support will apparently also be coming shortly.