How to install Windows on Steam Deck

How to install Windows on Steam Deck

Valve's Steam Deck runs SteamOS, an Arch Linux-based operating system that offers a very streamlined, almost console-style experience where you can easily navigate through the device's trackpad or analogs. If you've come to this page, though, chances are you want to replace it and are looking for how to install Windows on the Steam Deck.

Despite the company's efforts to develop SteamOS, some games designed for Windows still don't enjoy. of a good level of compatibility. SteamOS also does not support games from other stores, such as Epic or Origin. But making use of x86-based hardware, Steam Deck is in effect a PC, which allows it to install other operating systems and if your intention is to be able to start any game from any store on the portable console, perhaps using even the Xbox Game Pass, Windows will certainly be the best option.

Installing Windows on the Steam Deck obviously includes compromises that you have to accept: some console features, such as the ability to suspend games, will not be available. Before starting, you must also take into account that the Steam Deck hardware drivers are not yet fully functional on Windows, the experience may consequently be unstable and it will also be necessary to use an Ethernet to USB-C adapter to internet access.

Before seeing how to install Windows on Steam Deck, we would like to specify that Valve's console BIOS does not currently implement any TPM firmware; According to Lawrence Yang of Valve, however, it should already be released with the next update, but for the moment it will not be possible to install Windows 11. Valve also has not yet published a guide to restore the installation of SteamOS on the Steam Deck, so if you choose install Windows on Steam Deck, this is done at your own risk.

Method 1: install Windows on the Steam Deck SSD

1. Create installation media for Windows 10 or Windows 11

You can do this using Microsoft's Media Creation Tool. Once downloaded, just follow the on-screen instructions to create the installation media. If you are unsure of the steps to follow, you can follow this guide on how to install Windows from a USB stick.

2. Turn off Steam Deck and connect the installation media

Credit: 3. Start the boot manager by holding down together with the VOL - and POWER keys

Use the D-Pad to move the cursor to “EFI USB Device”, then pressing A.

Credit: 4. Steam Deck will restart when you start the Windows installation

If the screen appears rotated, don't be alarmed, everything is normal. If you also have a USB Type-C hub, it will be more convenient to connect a keyboard or mouse, as the Steam Deck controllers will not work. Otherwise you can safely use the touch screen.

Credit: 5. Proceed with the installation

Choose the language by selecting “Next”, then “ Install now ".

Credit: 6. Activate Windows

If you have a product key, enter it via the on-screen keyboard, otherwise select" I don't have a key ".

Credit: 7. Choose the version of Windows to install

Select the version to install and click on" Next ", accepting later the terms and conditions.

Credit: 8. Delete the partitions to proceed with the installation

After selecting the custom installation, you will find yourself in front of the partition management screen. You will notice that the Steam Deck SSD is partitioned into 8 parts and it will not be possible to install Windows in any of them. Delete partition number 8, the largest, by selecting it to proceed with the installation. During the procedure, you may see the screen orientation change frequently.

Credit: 9. Initializing the system

When the procedure is finished, you will find yourself in front of the initialization screen, where you can use the D-Pad and keys to navigate the interface.

Credit: 10. Adjust the orientation of the screen

Once the desktop appears, go to Start> Settings> System> Display, scroll down until you find the item "Screen orientation", then select "Horizontal" to orient the screen in the right direction.


Method 2: Boot Windows from USB or microSD media

For this method, in addition to downloading a Windows ISO through the Media Creation Tool, you need to use software to convert the media to a bootable drive. One of these is Rufus, a free and easy to use software. However, you can make use of any other suitable software that you are most familiar with.

1. Create the bootable media

Open Rufus and select the media from which you can boot Windows 10, then select the downloaded Windows ISO and under “Image option” choose “Windows to Go”. Under the menu “Partition scheme” select “MBR”, while in the section “Advanced options” put the check on “Use Rufus MBR with BIOS ID”. Finally, click on "Start" to start the procedure.

Credit: 2. Start Windows on Steam Deck from the media created

Once the procedure is complete, insert now media on the Steam Deck and with the console turned on, press and hold the VOL - and POWER buttons simultaneously. In the boot manager screen, select the media you have created with the D-Pad, confirming with the A button to start Windows.

Credit: 3. Proceed with the configuration operating system

Again, using a keyboard and mouse may be more comfortable at this stage, although it is still possible to do everything with the touchscreen. To fix the screen orientation, simply repeat the operation described at the end of the first method.

Since Windows is on an external media, it is likely that the performance will be lower than that achieved by the installation on SSD, also when you restart Steam Deck you will return to SteamOS again. It will therefore be necessary to open the boot manager (VOL - and POWER) by selecting the media later, whenever you want to start it.

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