How to Install Windows 11 on Steam Deck – Reviewed | Hot Mobile Press

Installing Windows 11 on Valve’s Steam Deck can help you gain full access to your Steam game library, including titles that are not natively compatible with SteamOS. It also effectively turns the deck into a full-fledged PC.

However, installing Windows is a difficult, multi-step process. We’ve simplified installing Windows on a Steam deck to make it as accessible as possible.

Before installing Windows 11 on Steam Deck

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

  • A USB drive with at least 16 GB of storage space. It is best to use a drive that supports USB 3 as this will speed up the installation.
  • A USB-C to USB-A hub with at least three USB-A ports.
  • A wired USB mouse.
  • A wired USB keyboard.

Also, make sure to fully update your Steam deck before proceeding. Valve has released updates to make installing Windows easier over time. Early Steam Deck models that have not been updated cannot install Windows 11.

Be warned that installing Windows on the Steam Deck will erase your SteamOS installation. It’s possible to avoid this with dual booting, which is covered at the end of this guide, but that has its own problems that make dual booting less useful.

Since a USB drive is used for the installation, the Steam Deck cannot be plugged into power during this time unless you are using a powered USB hub. If not, make sure your Steam Deck is charged before proceeding.

Finally, you need an internet connection.

How to Install Windows 11 on Steam Deck

Credit: Verified / Matthew S. Smith

Step 1: Download the Windows 11 installation media to another PC and run the utility. Run the installation media tool and select “USB Flash Drive” when asked what media you want to use. Make sure your USB drive is connected to the PC and then select it.

The Windows 11 Install Media Tool will download Windows and create a bootable Windows 11 installer on the 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 ready, remove the USB drive from your drive and connect it to the Steam Deck.

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

step 3: Turn off the Steam Deck if it’s not already turned off.

With the Steam Deck turned off, press and hold the volume down button and then press the power button. Continue to hold the volume down button until you see the Steam Deck home screen. This will launch Steam’s boot manager.

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

step 5: Windows installation starts. Note that it is oriented vertically. Choose your language options, then tap Next.

A black handheld game console showing part of the Windows 11 operating system installation process

Credit: Verified / Matthew S. Smith

note: Many guides say that the touchscreen works during Windows installation, but I didn’t find 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 install.

step 6: Choose Install now.

note: On my first try, the installer could not find a hard drive. Restarting the Steam Deck fixed this issue.

step 7: Activation is displayed. Enter a Windows product key if you have one, then select Next. Select alternative I don’t have a product key.

step 8: You have a choice of Windows versions. We recommend selecting Windows 11 Home. Windows 11 Pro should also work without any problems.

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

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

step 11: In the next step you will be asked where you want to install Windows. The Steam Deck comes with numerous default partitions, none of which are configured to allow Windows installation. Extinguish drive 0 partition 8the largest to make room.

A black handheld game console showing part of the Windows 11 operating system installation process

Credit: Verified / Matthew S. Smith

warning: This will erase your previous SteamOS installation. It’s possible to reinstall SteamOS later, but the process takes the same amount of time as installing Windows. Make sure you want to continue before performing this step.

step 12: Choose Drive 0 Unallocated spacethen select New. A box will appear in which you can change the size of the partition. You don’t have to resize it, so select it Apply.

step 13: You should now see Drive 0, Partition 9 is available. Select it and then tap Next.

step 14: The Windows installation starts. This will take some time. The Steam Deck will restart as part of this process.

step 15: Next you will see the Windows 11 region selector. Select your region and then tap Yes.

note: At this point, the USB drive is no longer needed, so you can unplug it if you need to.

step 16: Next you will see an input selection for the keyboard layout. Choose your layout and click Yes.

A black handheld game console showing part of the Windows 11 operating system installation process

Credit: Verified / Matthew S. Smith

step 17: You will be asked if you want to select a second keyboard layout. Most don’t need to do this for the Steam deck, so select it Skip.

step 18: Now you need to connect to a network. Select a wired or wireless network, then tap Next.

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

note: The automatic restart hung at this step. I had to bring up the steam boot manager again by holding down the button volume down button and then pressing the perfomance button and then select the Windows boot partition from the boot manager.

step 19Note: Once the Windows 11 installation reappears, you will need to set up your account. This includes entering a username, password, security questions, and privacy settings. Continue with these steps.

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

step 20: You’ll now see the Windows desktop – but we’re not done yet! The screen is still vertically aligned, so that needs to be fixed.

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

A black handheld game console showing part of the Windows 11 operating system installation process

Credit: Verified / Matthew S. Smith

step 21: That’s it! Windows is now installed on your Steam Deck. You can download and install programs, including Steam, as if you were using Windows on any other PC.

Can you dual boot SteamOS and Windows 11?

It is possible to dual boot SteamOS and Windows 11. This can be useful as it gives you access to the operating system that best suits your needs, but dual booting is even more complicated and can cause storage issues due to the deck’s limited hard drive capacity (especially on the entry-level model).

In short, I don’t recommend you try this unless you consider yourself a seasoned hardware enthusiast. If you’re willing to do this, there are two methods.

The first is to install Windows 11 as a bootable image on a USB drive or MicroSD card. You can use applications like Rufus to do this. This is a relatively easy way to dual boot and has the advantage of not splitting your Steam Deck’s storage space between two operating systems.

However, you must physically connect the USB drive or MicroSD card if you want to use Windows. Also, game loading times can be impacted, 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 a fresh install of SteamOS. It is an extremely complicated process and will share your Steam Deck’s memory between each operating system.
Windows 11 alone takes up around 20GB of space and SteamOS takes up around 10GB, so this isn’t a practical option if you own the 64GB Steam deck. (It’s best on the 512GB model.) I recommend following Deck Wizard’s YouTube tutorial if you decide to go down that route.

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