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Official Vale drivers for Windows 11 and Windows 10 make the Steam Deck functional. But it’s not as easy as clicking a download button. Let’s go through a tutorial on installing Windows on the Steam Deck from a microSD card and to the internal solid-state drive (SSD).
Remember that Windows 11 isn’t officially supported on the Steam Deck. Windows 11 needs TPM, but that isn’t set up on the Steam Deck. You can still follow the steps below to run Windows 11, but you might not get Windows updates.
Startup with a microSD card or a USB drive
I think you should boot from a microSD card or USB drive before running Windows on the Steam Deck. This can be undone at any time, so you can try Windows without losing any information on your Steam Deck.
Any UHS-1 microSD card or USB 3.0 drive with at least 32GB of storage will work. Check the label to make sure. The Steam Deck works with both Windows 10 and Windows 11, and the steps are the same for both.
Step 1 You can get the Windows 10 media creation tool from Microsoft’s website. Get the Windows 11 development tool if you want to use Windows 11.
Step 2 You can make a working version of Windows on your microSD card or USB drive by downloading Rufus.
Step 3 You can get the drivers for Steam Deck for Windows from Valve. Put them all in the same place on an extra USB drive so you can get to them later.
Step 4 Open the Windows Media Creation Tool and choose Create installation media. Choose the ISO file on the next page, and then choose a place on your PC to store it. Wait until the process is finished, and write down where you saved the ISO.
Step 5 Open Rufus and insert your USB drive or microSD card.
Note: The data on your microSD card or USB drive will be completely erased if you continue. Choose your microSD card or USB disk from the Device list in Rufus. Select should then be selected next to the Boot selection area. Go to the Windows ISO you previously produced. Select Windows To Go from the list of images. Next, select MBR from the Partition scheme list. If desired, rename the drive before selecting Ready to begin the flashing procedure.
Step 6 When it’s done, take out the microSD card and put it in the Steam Deck. Turn off your Steam Deck fully, and then press the Volume Down button as you turn it back on. This takes you to the boot manager.
Step 7 To boot into Windows, choose your SD card. On the Steam Deck, it will start up in portrait view. Windows doesn’t actually run here, so choose your language, keyboard layout, etc. as you normally would during the setup process. A keyboard and mouse are very helpful here, but you can also use just the tablet to set things up.
Step 8 Once you’re in Windows, go to Settings > System > Display and look for the Display orientation choice. Choose Landscape to make the screen face the right way.
Step 9 The last step is to plug in the USB drive where you put the Windows drivers. Connect it to your USB-C hub, not the Steam Deck directly, and install the drivers.
Your Steam Deck will boot back into SteamOS when you restart it, but you can always boot into Windows if you use the boot manager.
Separate this process from dual booting. If you want a long-term fix, you’ll have to decide between Windows and SteamOS because the Steam Deck does not yet enable dual booting.
How to do installation of Windows on the Steam Deck’s SSD?
You can install Windows straight on the SSD if you only want it on the Steam Deck. To do this, you’ll need to delete everything on the SSD, including your games, settings, and SteamOS. Valve said that the next version of SteamOS 3 would have a native dual-booting option, but this hasn’t come out yet.
Step 1 In order to start, you need to create a Windows installation USB or CD.
Step 2 Download the Windows media creator tool and set up the installer on the USB drive. You will need at least 16GB storage on the USB drive, otherwise, the tool will guide you through the process.
Step 3 Turn off your Steam Deck fully and use a USB hub to connect your USB drive. You can connect the drive directly, but I highly suggest using a USB-C hub to avoid any problems. You can also install it with the help of a keyboard and mouse, which you can join with a USB-C hub.
Step 4 To get to the boot manager, turn on the Steam Deck while holding down the Volume Down button. To move forward, choose your USB drive with the Windows software on it.
Step 5 Windows will start up in portrait mode, just like it did before. Choose the version of Windows you want, and then click Install Now. I really think you should hook up a computer and mouse here. You can use the touch screen to get through installation, but the keyboard and touchpads on the Steam Deck won’t work. After that, Windows will ask you to activate it. If you have a product key, enter it. If you don’t have one, choose “I don’t have a product key” to move on.
Step 6 On the next screen, select Custom: Install Windows only. To install Windows, you’ll have to delete files on the Steam Deck.
Note: This will delete everything on your Steam Deck, including your games, settings, and any saves or files that haven’t been uploaded to Steam Cloud. You can get SteamOS back at a later time, but you’ll have to reload all your games and change your settings.
Step 7 Select the partition you want to get rid of and click Delete. I think you should choose the biggest of the partitions you have. At least the 512GB model comes with eight parts.
Step 8 Choose the deleted partition, which should appear as “Unallocated space,” and click “Next.” Windows will start to set up on the hard drive.
Step 9 After some time and an automatic restart, Windows will load normally. Follow the steps above, but skip the Wi-Fi part and choose your keyboard layout and language instead.
Step 10 At this point, Windows is already set up, so all you need to do is clean up. Go to Settings > System > Display and change Landscape to Portrait.
Get another USB drive with the files for Steam Deck for Windows on it, and install those too. Now that SteamOS is gone, you’ll need to get it back if you want to use it again.