Will Valve's Steam Deck Handheld Gaming PC Be Ready For Windows 11 At Launch?
There is a lot of excitement surrounding Valve's upcoming Steam Deck handheld gaming PC, and rightfully so. Adding to the hype, Gabe Newell bragged how the open nature of the Steam Deck
is its superpower, and a distinguishing characteristic compared to the crop of game consoles running on proprietary platforms. That means users will be able to install Windows 11 if they choose. But will the Steam Deck be ready to accept Microsoft's next OS at launch? That's the goal.
Several factors are at play that make this an interesting question. The biggest one is Microsoft's stringent requirement that systems must enable Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 2.0 support
. This is an added layer of security that is built into most modern processors, and can also exist as a dedicated chip on a motherboard.
On most consumer platforms, TPM 2.0 is not enabled by default, and finding the setting in the BIOS can be tricky for inexperienced users. This led to many people (myself included) initially being told by Microsoft's PC Health Check app that their systems were not compatible with Windows 11, even though it just boiled down to a configuration setting.
Valve And AMD Are Working To Ensure The Steam Deck Is Compatible With Windows 11 At The BIOS Level
The question remains, though, what about the Steam Deck—does it have the necessary features to run Windows 11? It does, and Valve is working with AMD to ensure the handheld will play nice with Windows 11 at launch. There is still some work to be done, though.
"There's work looking at TPM just now. We've focused so much on Windows 10, so far, that we haven't really gotten that far into it. Our expectation is that we can meet that," Steam Deck designer Greg Coomer told PC Gamer in an interview.
The Steam Deck is a handheld PC, albeit with custom silicon based on AMD's Zen 2 CPU and RDNA 2 GPU
architectures. And while it is an open system, it is still a different product than a typical PC that is build around modular parts.
Coomer says that ensuring the Steam Deck is ready for Windows 11
at the BIOS level is "a conversation that's going on with AMD." And those talks are apparently going well, because in the early going, "there's nothing to indicate to us yet that there will be any issues" with Microsoft's upcoming OS.
How many users will end up installing Windows 11 on the Steam Deck remains to be seen. While it is an open platform, it's also highly tuned for Steam. Out of the box, it runs SteamOS 3.0, which is based on Arch Linux.
"On Steam Deck, your games run on a different operating system than the one on your desktop PC. It's a new version of SteamOS, built with Steam Deck in mind and optimized for a handheld gaming experience," Valve explains. "It comes with Proton, a compatibility layer that makes it possible to run your games without any porting work needed from developers. For Deck, we're vastly improving Proton's game compatibility and support for anti-cheat solutions by working directly with the vendors."
Getting Windows 11 installed on the Steam Deck is one thing, but figuring out to what purpose is another. It will be interesting to see what clever use-case scenarios people come up with when Steam Deck arrives later this year.
Speaking of which, the initial batch of Steam Deck shipments will go out in December of this year. You can still plunk down $5 to reserve one of the three models, but they are all slated to arrive sometime after the second quarter of next year.