How to install Windows on Steam Deck

Installing Windows 11 on Valve’s Steam Deck can help you gain full access to your Steam library, including titles that are not natively compatible with SteamOS. It also effectively turns your desktop into a fully capable PC. However, installing Windows is a difficult and multi-step process. We’ve simplified installing Windows on Steam Deck to make it as friendly as possible.

Before installing Windows 11 on Steam Deck

You will need several items before you can install Windows on Steam.

  • A USB drive with a storage capacity of at least 16 GB. It is better to use a USB 3 supported drive, as this helps to proceed with the installation quickly.
  • A USB-C to USB-A hub with at least three USB-A ports.
  • Wired USB mouse.
  • Wired USB keyboard.

Also, make sure that Steam Deck is fully updated before proceeding. Valve has released updates to improve the ease of installing Windows over time. Early Steam Deck models that have not been updated cannot install Windows 11.

Be warned that installing Windows on Steam Deck will delete your SteamOS installation. This can be avoided with dual booting, which is covered at the end of this guide, but this has its own problems that make dual booting less useful than you might expect.

Since a USB drive is used for installation, Steam Deck can only be connected to power during this time if you are using a powered USB hub. If not, make sure your Steam Deck is charged before proceeding.

Finally, you will need an internet connection.

How to install Windows 11 on Steam Deck

Credit: Review / Matthew S. Smith

  • Step 1: Download the Windows 11 installation media on another computer and run the utility. Run the installation media tool, and when asked which media you would like to use, select the USB flash drive. Make sure the USB drive is connected to the computer, then select it.

The Windows 11 installation media tool will download Windows and create a bootable Windows 11 installer on a USB drive. This may take some time depending on the speed of your internet connection.

  • Step 2: Once the Windows 11 installation media tool is finished, remove the USB drive from your drive and connect it to the Steam Deck.

It is recommended to use a USB hub for this, rather than connecting directly to the Steam Deck’s USB-C port, as you may need to connect a keyboard and mouse as well.

  • Step 3: Turn off Steam Deck if it is not already closed.

With Steam Deck off, press and hold the Volume Down button, then press the Power button. Hold the Volume Down button until the Steam Deck boot screen appears. This will launch Steam’s Boot Manager.

  • Step 4: Select the USB drive from the list of boot options.

  • Fifth step: Windows installation will start. Note that it will be oriented vertically. Choose your language options, then click Next.

Black portable game console appears as part of Windows 11 installation process

Credit: Review / Matthew S. Smith

Noticeable: Several guides suggest that the touch screen works while installing Windows, but I haven’t found that to be the case. I had to use a wired keyboard and mouse, which meant I had to use a USB hub with additional USB ports to complete the installation.

  • Step 6: Choose INSTALL NOW.

Noticeable: On my first attempt, the installer failed to find my hard drive. Restarting Steam Deck fixed this issue.

  • Step 7: Activation will appear. Enter your Windows product key if you have one, then select next one. Instead, select I don’t have a product key.

  • Step 8: You will get a choice of Windows versions. We recommend that you select Windows 11 Home. Windows 11 Pro should also work without a problem.

  • Step 9: Accept the license agreement, and then select Next.

  • step 10: The next screen provides an option to upgrade from a previous version of Windows or install a new version of Windows. Choose Install Windows only.

  • Step 11: The next step asks where you want to install Windows. Steam Deck comes with several default partitions, none of which are configured to allow installation of Windows. delete Engine 0 Section 8the largest, to make room.

Black portable game console appears as part of Windows 11 installation process

Credit: Review / Matthew S. Smith

warning: This will delete your previous SteamOS installation. It is possible to reinstall SteamOS later, but the process is as time-consuming as installing Windows. Confirm that you want to continue before completing this step.

  • Step 12: Choose Drive 0 unallocated spacethen select new. A field will appear allowing you to change the size of the partition. There is no need to resize, so choose Progressing.

  • Step 13: You should now see Drive 0 Partition 9 available. Select it, then tap next one.

  • Step 14: Windows installation will start. This will take some time to complete. Steam Deck will restart as part of this process.

  • step 15: You will then see Select Region for Windows 11. Select your region and then click yes.

Noticeable: At this point, the USB drive is no longer required, so you can unplug it if desired.

  • Step 16: You will then see the keyboard layout entry selected. Select your layout and click yes.
Black portable game console appears as part of Windows 11 installation process

Credit: Review / Matthew S. Smith

  • step 17: You will be asked if you want to select a second keyboard layout. Most won’t need to do this for Steam Deck, so select skips.

  • step 18: Now you will need to connect to a network. Select a wired or wireless network and tap next one.

At this point, installing Windows 11 will automatically restart Steam Deck.

Noticeable: Auto restart is suspended in this step. I had to re-enter Steam’s boot manager by pressing File Lower the sound button then hit Energy button, then select the Windows boot partition from the boot manager.

  • step 19: Once your Windows 11 installation appears again, you will need to set up your account. This includes entering your username, password, security questions, and privacy settings. Proceed with these steps.

Windows will complete some final installation updates, which may take a few minutes, and restart your deck again.

  • step 20: You’ll now see your Windows desktop – but we’re not done yet! The screen is still oriented vertically so this needs to be fixed.

Select Settings, then Display and scroll down to Display Orientation. Change the orientation from portrait to landscape.

Black portable game console appears as part of Windows 11 installation process

Credit: Review / Matthew S. Smith

  • step 21: This is! Windows is now installed on your Steam Deck. You can download programs, including Steam, and install them as if you were using Windows on any other computer.

Can you dual boot SteamOS and Windows 11?

It is possible to dual boot SteamOS and Windows 11. This can be useful as this will allow you to access the operating system that works best for your needs, but dual booting is more complex and can cause storage issues due to the limited deck. Hard disk capacity (especially on entry-level model).

In short, I wouldn’t advise you to try this unless you consider yourself an expert hardware enthusiast. If you wish, there are two ways.

The first is to install Windows 11 as a bootable image on a USB drive or MicroSD card. You can use apps like Rufus to accomplish this. This is a relatively simple method of dual booting and has the advantage of not partitioning Steam Deck’s storage space, which can be really tight, between two operating systems. However, you will have to physically connect a USB drive or MicroSD card when you want to use Windows. Also, game load times may be affected, especially when using a MicroSD card.

Another option is to use Rufus as a separate utility with GParted to set up partitions for each operating system. This also requires reinstalling SteamOS. It is a very complicated process and will divide Steam Deck storage between each operating system. Windows 11 alone requires 20 GB of storage space, and SteamOS takes up about 10 GB, so this is not a viable option if you own a 64 GB Steam Deck. (It’s the best in the 512GB model.) I recommend following the Deck Wizard’s YouTube tutorial if you decide to go this route.

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