It is true that we often talk about games on Steam Deck. Whether it’s from games that are compatible with the system or not, from Valve’s verification system, or from new tweaks and features, actually the hybrid device released in 2022 is much more than that.
Steam Deck is a hybrid PC. We can say it without fear, since it has all the capabilities of a laptop, but with the incentive of being able to connect it to a television or monitor thanks to the dock.
As such, in the Steam Deck we can not only play more than 7,000 Steam titles, but also enjoy applications and programs. It is even possible to install a different operating system…
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Steam Deck comes standard with SteamOS, although to ensure compatibility with games it makes use of Proton (a layer on top of Linux) and also Vulkan software. But, Did you know that it is possible to install Windows on Valve’s hybrid device?
It is, and it is also not a very difficult process. Valve itself provides the necessary drivers on its support website, but you should know a few things before doing so.
Is using Windows on Steam Decks really an improvement? What features have improved from a year ago? we tell you everything you need to know about Windows on Steam Deckto better decide whether to change the operating system or not.
Aspects you should know before installing Windows on Steam Deck:
Steam Deck is compatible with Windows 11 and new drivers
First of all: Steam Deck is not officially supported for Windows. Valve itself recognizes it on its official website, although they do provide the drivers (controllers) necessary to achieve the best possible result.
In other words, it is possible to install Windows and have it work correctly, but in case of error Valve is not responsible.
When Valve provided the main drivers to install Windows on the Steam Deck, the truth is that many functions were conspicuous by their absence. A great example is the audio, which was non-existent through the system speakers..
Fortunately things have improved a lot in recent months. In fact, Steam Deck It is not only compatible with Windows 10 anymore, but also with Windows 11.
In this way, all players who wish to can load Windows 11 directly, no need to downgrade and update the BIOS in Steam Deck. The same is expected to happen with future versions of Microsoft’s OS.
What do you need to know before installing Windows on the Steam Deck? Well, above all, now you can download the main drivers (controllers) necessary on the Valve support website.
These are the APU driver (updated to November 2022), the Wi-Fi driver, the Bluetooth driver, the SD card reader control, and two official audio drivers.
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Of course, you should know that each of these drivers must be installed independentlythrough a USB drive that we use as a means of loading the new operating system.
If there is a problem in the driver installation process, in this official Valve guide you can see how to proceed with the SteamOS recovery.
What Valve still needs to improve
Despite the fact that Valve has greatly improved the performance of Windows in the Steam Deck, it is still not perfect. Of course, at least the audio already works correctly with the corresponding drivers.
The main problem we face is that Valve does not support and Steam Deck does not allow dual booting officially. In other words, the two operating systems (SteamOS and Windows) cannot be started at the same time.
Not because the system hardware doesn’t allow it, but because of limitations of SteamOS in the current version. In other words, you’ll need to format your Steam Deck in order to install Windows and get it working (although it’s also possible to install to a microSD, which we’ll talk about in the future).
To install Windows and have the Microsoft OS start correctly, you must delete all data from your Steam Deck. There are some unofficial solutions, but frankly we do not recommend them (and even less without prior knowledge of the matter).
The good news is that Valve promises to introduce dual boot in SteamOS 3the new version of the official Steam Deck operating system.
We don’t know when this change will take place (perhaps it will be for Steam Deck 2), but at least there is a medium-term solution for one of the problems that Windows installation causes.
Instalar Windows en Steam Deck
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Once we have the drivers (controllers) downloaded and we know the limitations of Steam Deck in this aspect (dual boot), we will proceed with the installation of Windows.
In Hobby Consoles you can read a complete guide about it. It is certainly not a complex process, although you must do it very carefully once you format the data on your device.
To install Windows on Steam Deck you need to create a bootable Windows 10/11 USB (using the Rufus program), and later go loading the drivers of the Microsoft OS in Steam Deck. In a simplified way, of course.
Remember that Steam Deck es compatible con Windows 10 y Windows 11. Below we will reveal a few tips that Valve provides on its support page.
To go to the boot menu, turn off your Steam Deck. Then, while holding down the volume down button, press the home button. The Steam Deck screen will have a vertical (sideways) orientation during installation. Once Windows is installed, you can switch the screen to landscape orientation. To enter your product key during installation, you must be connected to the Internet. Since there are no Wi-Fi drivers at the moment, you’ll need a USB-C hub with an Ethernet port for the internet. Both Windows 10 and Windows 11 are supported. For Windows 11, make sure you have the latest operating system update (including the latest BIOS, with fTPM support) before installing
Since SteamOS doesn’t allow dual booting, every time you want to switch OS you will have to reload the OS from the debug menu de Steam Deck.
If you have successfully applied the Windows installation, Wi-Fi connectivity, Bluetooth, audio, and APU optimization will be enabled in the Steam Deck once you start Windows.
Should I install Windows? Or is SteamOS better?
We come to the million dollar question. Steam Deck comes with SteamOS out of the box, an operating system that has many virtues, but also notorious errors. Valve promises to fix them in SteamOS 3.
What advantages does Windows offer in the Steam Deck? For starters, installing Microsoft’s operating system will make many of the games and apps work better than on SteamOS.
The reason is simple: it will no longer be necessary to apply the compatibility layer of Proton (or Vulkan)so games and apps will run natively.
Another advantage is that games not compatible with Steam Deck (such as Destiny 2 or PUBG Battlegrounds), as well as Windows applications (the Epic Games launcher, which in turn allows you to run Fortnite) they will be fully functional after the change of operating system.
By proxy, you can even install Game Pass games for PC, which in SteamOS can only be played in their cloud version from a browser. But beware, not everything is perfect.
The lack of dual booting is a heavy stone that blocks other potential advantages, such as switching games and applications between SteamOS and Windows. We are no longer talking about the tiny size of the menus and text, which makes configuration quite difficult.
It is also noted that some games optimized for Proton/Vulkan (such as Elden Ring) work at a lower frame rate per second if we install Windows.
Ultimately, we believe that It’s a little early to talk about “optimal performance” Windows on Steam Deck. It has a lot of future (play Game Pass titles, Epic Launcher and those not compatible with Deck), but more optimization is still needed in the coming months.
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This is everything you need to know about installing Windows on the Steam Deck. If you’ve already taken a look at the article and still want to, then you can complete the installation in just a few minutes.
Valve is expected to improve the adaptation of Windows to the Steam Deck with the successor to the hybrid system. After all, not all devices allow you to play the Game Pass catalog anywhere.
Do you have a Steam Deck with Windows? Are you satisfied with Microsoft’s operating system? It’s just one of the many alternatives that Steam Deck offers, since you can even install the Epic Games Store and enjoy loads of free games every week.
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