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Install Windows 11 and 10 on Steam Deck In [9 Steps]

by Everydays Journal
windows 11 steam deck

Windows 11 and 10 work on the Steam Deck now that Valve has officially released Microsoft’s operating system drivers. It’s not as simple as hitting a download button, though. This guide will show you how to install Windows on the Steam Deck to the internal solid-state drive (SSD) and from a microSD card.

Windows isn’t perfect on the Steam Deck, but installing the OS (or booting from it with a microSD card) can help turn the Steam Deck into a laptop replacement. We’ll show you a complete SSD installation and how to boot to Windows from a microSD card. The latter will keep the original SteamOS install intact.

Before diving in, remember that Windows 11 isn’t technically supported on the Steam Deck, and windows 11 requires TPM, and the Steam Deck doesn’t have that enabled. You can still install Windows 11 with the instructions below, but you may not receive Windows updates.

Boot from a microSD card or USB drive

Before installing Windows on the Steam Deck, I recommend you first boot from a microSD card or USB drive. This is reversible, so you can try Windows without erasing anything on your Steam Deck. Windows isn’t perfect on the Steam Deck, and reinstalling SteamOS is a big task.

I’m using a microSD card, but any UHS-1 microSD card (check the label) or USB 3.0 drive with at least 32GB of storage will work. The Steam Deck supports Windows 10 and 11, and the process is the same regardless of your OS. I’m using Windows 10 here.

Step 1: Head to Microsoft’s website and download the Windows 10 media creation tool. If you want to use Windows 11, download the Windows 11 creation tool (under Create 11 installation media).

Step 2: Download Rufus, which is what will allow you to create a bootable version of Windows on your microSD card or USB drive.

Step 3: Download the Windows drivers for Steam Deck from Valve. Put them all in a folder together on a spare USB drive for access later.

Step 4: Open the Windows Media Creation Tool and select Create installation media. On the next page, choose the ISO file and a place to store it on your PC. Wait until the process is done, and keep a note about where you held the ISO.

Step 5: Plug your microSD card or USB drive and open Rufus. Note: Continuing here will erase all data on your microSD card/USB drive. In Rufus, select your microSD card or USB drive under Device. Then, choose Select next to the Boot selection section. Navigate to your Windows ISO that you created earlier.

Under the Image option, select Windows To Go. Then, choose MBR under the Partition scheme. Rename the drive if you want, and select Ready to start the flashing process.

Step 6: Once it’s done, eject the microSD card and insert it into the Steam Deck. Please turn off your Steam Deck and hold the Volume down button as you power it on, which will enter the boot manager.

Step 7: Select your SD card to boot into Windows, which will kick in portrait mode on the Steam Deck.

Windows don’t install here, so proceed through the setup process as usual by selecting your language, keyboard layout, etc. A keyboard and mouse help a lot here, but you can get through setup with just the touchscreen.

Step 8: Once in Windows, head to Settings > System > Display and find the Display orientation option. Select Landscape to flip the screen to the proper orientation.

Step 9: Finally, plug in the USB drive on which you stored the Windows drivers. Plug it in using your USB-C hub (not directly into the Steam Deck) and install the drivers.

That’s it. When you reboot your Steam Deck, it will go back to SteamOS, but you can always boot into Windows, provided you go through the boot manager.

Don’t mix up this process with dual booting. The Steam Deck doesn’t support dual-booting at the moment, so you’ll need to choose either Windows or SteamOS if you want a permanent solution.

Final Words

If you’re coming from Windows, you’ll need to factory reset the Steam Deck to get it working. Attempting the other options won’t keep your games if you’ve already installed Windows, and they could lead to some nasty file system conflicts.

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