When Valve announced the Steam Deck — a gaming PC cunningly disguised as a Sega Game Gear — the company made it pretty clear that buyers would be able to do what they wanted with it. And that included disposing of the perfectly usable SteamOS and installing Windows instead.
Well, true to its promise, Valve has now made the Steam Deck capable of installing Windows 10 with drivers for the GPU, WiFi and Bluetooth available to download from its site.
Unsurprisingly, you’re on your own if it goes wrong with Valve “unable to offer” support for an unsupported operating system, but it does point towards a guide to reinstalling SteamOS in the unlikely event that something goes wrong. Or in the far more likely event of it being a wholly underwhelming experience.
Yes, it’s one or the other at the time of writing. “While Steam Deck is fully capable of dual-boot, the SteamOS installer that provides a dual-boot wizard isn’t ready yet,” Valve apologetically explains.
And that’s not the only reason you probably want to take a pass on installing Windows for now: while the hardware mostly works, audio drivers are “still in the works with AMD and other parties” meaning you’re limited to Bluetooth or USB-C sound for the time being. Finally, Windows 11 isn’t yet supported either, because of the requirement of TPM. It will work eventually, but Valve needs to update the bios.
In time, when dual booting is an option and brave pioneers have managed to iron out the inevitable kinks, the ability to run Windows could be the Steam Deck’s trump card. Not only does it open up the door to any software that runs on Windows — emulators, old games that haven’t made it to Steam, even Excel if you really want — it also means you can use Microsoft’s Game Pass Ultimate to get a ready stream of titles via a low-cost monthly subscription.
That’s an exciting future for Steam Deck… but it’s not a particularly exciting present. Unless you really want to try Halo Infinite on the go: the anti-cheat mechanism is currently incompatible with SteamOS.