As we outlined in our Steam Deck review, Valve’s Linux-based SteamOS works really well on the handheld gaming PC. But its maker has stressed from the beginning that while its own operating system will give you the best experience, the Deck is at its core a computer, so if you want to, say, install Windows instead, you’re free to.
But that wasn’t the case at first, as the drivers weren’t quite ready. As of yesterday, Steam Deck owners can now install Windows and effectively turn the machine into a portable Xbox if they want to.
There are a few conditions though, as well as a few warnings worth taking into consideration before you start tinkering away. In a blog post, Valve has made it clear that currently you can only perform a full Windows install, which means wiping SteamOS from your device entirely. A dual-boot will eventually be possible, but the SteamOS installer that makes it so isn’t yet ready. Right now you’re only able to install Windows 10, too,
Drivers are provided for GPU, WiFi and Bluetooth, but there are no audio drivers yet, so the Deck’s speakers and headphone jack are currently not functional with Windows installed. Bluetooth and USB-C audio should do the trick in the meantime.
Valve also says its advice and assistance should you have any problems regarding Windows ends there, so once you begin the process you’re on your own. If you miss SteamOS and want to revert back, you can follow these instructions. Instructions on how to install Windows are provided here.
It’s clearly early days for alternative OS’ on Steam Deck, but when a dual-boot does get the green light the possibilities really are endless.