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Installing Windows 10 on Steam Deck can open up the possibilities of what you can do with Valve’s portable gaming system, but it’s not without its limits. Since its launch in March 2022, no audio driver for the Steam Deck, so you must connect a Bluetooth speaker or headset for sounds with Windows.
What do you need:
- An 8GB or larger USB or USB-C drive
- USB-C hub (optional: with Ethernet port)
- wired mouse
- Wired keyboard
Start by visiting this page (click here) to create a bootable Windows USB.
Take an 8 GB or larger USB flash drive. You may be able to use a microSD card in a USB adapter if the Windows tool recognizes it as a USB device.
Once you have downloaded the Windows Media Creation tool, open it and follow the instructions. You are going to want to select “Create installation media (USB drive, DVD or ISO file) for another PC”
You must select Windows 10 from the edit options on the next screen, as currently Steam Deck does not support Windows 11 installations. The architecture must be 64-bit (x64).
The next step is quite obvious: select “USB flash drive”.
Press next and a list of removable drives will appear. If you don’t see yours, click the “Refresh list of drives” option until it appears. If it still doesn’t show up, you may need to reformat the disk, or the disk may be too small or, worse, damaged.
Once you’ve made your drive selection (in this case, G: (Untitled)), the Windows Media Creation Tool will begin to work its magic, downloading Windows 10 and writing it to the USB drive. a way that makes it bootable from your Steam Deck (or any other computer for that matter). It shouldn’t take too long, but it mainly depends on the read-write speed of the USB flash drive and your internet speed. You’re cool to keep doing other things while it’s running: it’s doing its job in the background.
Once complete, you are ready to install it on the Steam Deck. Plug your USB drive, either into the hub or into the USB-C port on top of the Steam Deck.
To access the Steam Deck BIOS, first power off the unit completely. Do not restart. Do not suspend. A full stop. Once it’s off, hold down the volume down button and press the power button. When you hear the little his bloop, release volume up and you’ll be in the Steam Deck Startup Manager. Find your USB drive and select it, then boot from there.
I recommend using a USB hub with a wired keyboard and mouse while setting up your Windows installation, but it’s not required. Although the Steam Deck controls do not work during installation, the touchscreen functionality does work during the entire process. However, a mouse and keyboard will make things a little easier. You will also need a USB-C hub with an Ethernet connection, as you will need to download the WiFi driver.
Now it’s just like any other Windows installation… except it’s in portrait mode. Simply twist the Steam Deck 90 degrees clockwise for the installation process. You can change this after Windows has finished installing.
When you get to the part where you select one of the drives, you will find that Windows cannot be installed on ANY of the eight Steam Deck partitions. You will have to delete each of them by hand. When, you will have a single “Unallocated Space” option (the size will vary depending on the version of Steam Deck you have). Select that unallocated space and Windows will format the drive (nothing to worry about, this adds 3 partitions to the drive and you’ll install Windows on the largest of the 3).
When you get to drive selection, you’ll find that all eight SteamOS partitions cannot accept a Windows installation. You will need to remove ALL of them. The remaining “unallocated space” will differ in size depending on the model of Switch Deck you have, but that’s where Windows can now live. It will create three partitions before moving on to the installation process.
Once you are on your desktop, go to display properties to enable your screen orientation to landscape mode. When supported, while plugged into an Ethernet connection, visit https://help.steampowered.com/en/faqs/view/6121-ECCD-D643-BAA8 from the web browser and download Wi-Fi, display and Bluetooth drivers. Another option is to load the driver files onto a USB flash drive or microSD card from another internet-connected device and access them from Windows Explorer. It’s definitely the best choice if you don’t want to buy an Ethernet-enabled USB-C hub.
Extract the folders and find the installation files inside and run them.
To note: for the Bluetooth driver, Windows triggered a security alert, but clicking on the More information option, you can pop up a box for “Run anyway”.
There are currently no audio drivers for the Steam Deck. If you want to hear sounds, you must use a Bluetooth speaker or headset.