Valve brings Windows to Steam Deck with new update but there's a catch

Steam Deck connected to keyboard and mouse and running Windows 10
(Image credit: Future / Microsoft)

If you've been waiting for Windows to make its way to the Steam Deck, then we have some good news: Valve just released a bunch of new drivers that will allow you to load a fresh install of Windows 10 onto its new handheld console – though Windows 11 support might take a bit more time.

The news popped up in a Steam blog post on Thursday and even though it was unexpected, the news is definitely welcome, at least for all the tinkerers out there who can't wait to mess around with a handheld Windows PC.

"Like any other PC," the post states, "you can install other applications and OSes if you'd like. For those interested in installing Windows, you'll need a few additional drivers to have the best experience. Links to these, along with notes for installing Windows on Steam Deck can be found here."

The major drivers included in the update are the AMD GPU, as well as the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth components. According to the post, Audio drivers from AMD and other partners are coming soon, but with the new Bluetooth driver, you can at least hook up a Bluetooth headset.

Before we get too excited though, the Windows on Deck updates don't allow for dual-booting yet, so you'll need to do a full Windows install on the console, which would replace SteamOS. While reloading SteamOS might be a pain, if you're the type to install Windows 10 on a handheld, you probably know more about that then anyone.

Analysis: where's Windows 11?

While Windows 11 is the hot new OS right now, it will have to wait a bit before it makes its way to the Steam Deck.

"Also for now," Valve says, "you can only install Windows 10. Windows 11 requires a new BIOS that is currently in the pipe (which provides fTPM support) and will be shipping soon."

Valve also notes that these new resources are released as-is, and that there won't be any official support for Windows on Deck from Valve if something should go wrong (and things invariably go wrong). So make sure you back everything up and there's a major point of caution with this news! 

We can't stress this enough: installing a new operating system on hardware that it wasn't designed for will usually void any support or warranty on the device, especially since getting an OS to work on unfamiliar hardware often requires tweaks that can interfere with a device's expected behavior. 

Valve has been pretty chill about letting people do what they want with the Steam Deck, and we celebrate that, but messing with a device's OS is a pretty big deal, so only attempt it if you know what you're doing and you don't mind losing money. In the worst case scenario, you can end up bricking that brand new $600 handheld you just got, so do be careful out there folks.

John Loeffler
Components Editor

John (He/Him) is the Components Editor here at TechRadar and he is also a programmer, gamer, activist, and Brooklyn College alum currently living in Brooklyn, NY. 

Named by the CTA as a CES 2020 Media Trailblazer for his science and technology reporting, John specializes in all areas of computer science, including industry news, hardware reviews, PC gaming, as well as general science writing and the social impact of the tech industry.

You can find him online on Threads @johnloeffler.

Currently playing: Baldur's Gate 3 (just like everyone else).