Microsoft’s OS can now run correctly on Valve’s console, but beware: this is not official support.
What got a lot of the public excited about Valve’s Steam Deck is that it’s not just a game console; it is also a small PC in its own right. But until now, it was still impossible to install Windows on it. However, Valve has just announced in a blog post the availability of a set of drivers that will allow you to take advantage of Microsoft’s operating system.
Those who prefer to abandon the idea of a Linux OS entirely can therefore install Windows 10 themselves in relative serenity; it will simply be necessary to install the drivers in question, available at this address. In particular, there are drivers for the GPUsthe Wi-Fi and Bluetooth; audio drivers, on the other hand, are “still under development” with AMD and other Valve partners. In theory, this should still allow Windows 10 to function normally.
Windows 11, on the other hand, is not yet available; it requires a new BIOS which is still being integrated by the Valve teams. But that means we can expect to be able to run Microsoft’s latest OS on the Steam Deck.
Not official support
Be careful though: there are a few important details to keep in mind before embarking on a Windows installation. To begin with, Valve specifies that it is still impossible to launch the OS in Dual Boot. The machine itself is quite capable of hosting the necessary disk partition and the 2nd OS; the software part is just a little behind. Valve isn’t announcing when, but this feature will also be coming eventually.
Next, it is important to note that this is in no way an official support for the OS. These resources are offered as such and it is the responsibility of the user to use them correctly. In essence, Valve isn’t endorsing; but it still holds the door open instead of knowingly hindering the user.
Of course, this also means that the user can only blame himself if he encounters a glitch. But do not panic; in case of mishap, Valve has also published a recovery guide to restore the basic functionality of the Steam Deck. It is available at this address.
Windows on Steam Deck, a fake good idea?
Overall, this positioning consistent with the manufacturer’s philosophy, which wanted to offer a real flexible platform and not a closed and ultra-controlled ecosystem. But in this case, Valve has good reason not to encourage installing Windows; it is not by chance that it favored Linux and the Proton compatibility overlay.
Indeed, Windows remains a generalist OS that is by definition quite difficult to optimize for niche uses. Now, this is precisely the DNA of the Steam Deck; if the machine is physically capable of running it, this also means that it will be necessary to give up on the optimization specific to this platform. Suffice to say that running a AAA game on a Windows Steam Deck will probably be less than ideal in terms of performance. But it is still appropriate to applaud this desire to offer an open system.
New verified and playable Xbox Game Studios games
And by the way, Valve also gave some news about Xbox game support. According to The Verge, “most” Xbox Game Studios stamped games should work on the machine… but some of the best known and most popular are also falling by the wayside.
Indeed, we learn that Gears 5, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Halo Infinite and Microsoft Flight Simulator X are not not supported on the Steam Deck. Apparently this is a compatibility issue with an anti-cheat system; hard to see what Flight Simulator does in this list in this case, even though few people expected it to be supported for performance reasons.
But it’s not all bad news: six new games are now listed as “Verified”. This means that compatibility is assured, and that it will be possible to enjoy it in the best conditions on the console. And there are some fine names on the program, starting with the excellent Deathloop, Psychonauts 2, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrificeand Evil Within ! Fallout Shelter, Prey, Battletoads and Max: Curse of the Brotherhood complete the list.
Six new titles also come to fill the ranks of games not fully optimized, but nevertheless “Playable”. Here again, there are some high-sounding names: Sea of Thieves, Fallout 4, Forza Horizon 4 & 5, Quantum Breakand State of Decay: YOSE.
Relations between Valve and Microsoft therefore seem very good. Would this bode well for a potential Game Pass integration, as Gabe Newell wishes? The future will tell.