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Chime Time: Steam Deck Gets Windows Audio Drivers At Last

Windows on Steam Deck
(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Valve released Windows drivers for the Steam Deck way back in March, but only now do some key features work: the speakers and headphone jack. Today, Valve added audio support to its Windows driver package for its handheld. (Previously, you had to use Bluetooth or USB Type-C speakers or headphones.)

The drivers (there are two of them), should fix these issues. You'll also need to update Valve and AMD's APU driver for these to work.

Just because you can install Windows on Steam Deck doesn't mean you should. In my impressions of Windows 10 on Steam Deck, I found that the experience felt a bit rough around the edges, even with support for the GPU, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

I'm of the opinion the work Valve is doing on SteamOS, its Arch Linux-based operating system, is much more friendly to use with a controller. It simply feels more like a fully-baked console experience, and Valve has been squashing bugs and adding features like a lock screen and per-game performance profiles.

And it's not like Windows has performed incredibly on other handhelds. Windows was also clunky when we ran our review of the Aya Neo Next Pro. That being said, it does open up other game launchers, like the Epic Game Store, as well as Xbox Game Pass and other ways to run non-Steam games.

Another note on Valve's Steam Deck Windows Resources page seems to suggest we'll have to wait for what may be the best Windows installation option on Steam Deck: one you can dual-boot.

"While Steam Deck is fully capable of dual-boot, the SteamOS installer that provides a dual-boot wizard isn't ready yet," Valve's page reads. "This will ship alongside SteamOS 3 once it's complete." For now, those who do want to get as close as they can could put Windows on a bootable SD card.

That would be the dream: playing most games in SteamOS, but having some space reserved for the titles you can only play elsewhere.

If you install Windows on Steam Deck, you're effectively on your own; Valve isn't supplying any support. Previously, Windows 11 couldn't run, but after an update, Valve added fTPM to support the newer operating system.





Andrew E. Freedman is a senior editor at Tom's Hardware focusing on laptops, desktops and gaming. He also keeps up with the latest news. A lover of all things gaming and tech, his previous work has shown up in Tom's Guide, Laptop Mag, Kotaku, PCMag and Complex, among others. Follow him on Twitter: @FreedmanAE

  • ezst036
    Admin said:
    It simply feels more like a fully-baked console experience.................

    And it's not like Windows has performed incredibly on other handhelds. Windows was also clunky when we ran our review of the Aya Neo Next Pro.

    When Valve officially releases a SteamOS 3.0 ISO, I would really like to see an Aya device, GPD, ONEXPLAYER, and other handhelds get Windows wiped out and SteamOS installed by some reviewers at Tom's Hardware.

    I suspect that the thumb controllers might be an issue(non functional) in SteamOS as the controller has been on the Windows side, but assuming that everything works, I bet these handhelds have a more seamless experience with SteamOS on them.

    I doubt that turns out to be a Steam Deck exclusive situation. Let's face it, Windows is better for gaming because Windows has been around for so long and everybody supports Windows because Windows is the biggest. But ultimately, Windows is a business workstation OS that's been masquerading around as a gaming OS like a tourist visiting New Orleans for Mardi Gras.

    Son, you ain't a Creole. We can tell.
    Reply
  • cryoburner
    ezst036 said:
    But ultimately, Windows is a business workstation OS that's been masquerading around as a gaming OS like a tourist visiting New Orleans for Mardi Gras.
    And ultimately, SteamOS is a server OS with some features tacked on to allow it to run Windows games with varying degrees of success. The only thing SteamOS really does better is that its interface is designed specifically for the hardware, making navigation easier on such a device. Though that easier navigation is still largely limited to accessing content on the Steam ecosystem.
    Reply
  • mitch074
    cryoburner said:
    And ultimately, SteamOS is a server OS with some features tacked on to allow it to run Windows games with varying degrees of success. The only thing SteamOS really does better is that its interface is designed specifically for the hardware, making navigation easier on such a device. Though that easier navigation is still largely limited to accessing content on the Steam ecosystem.
    Not true, Linux was originally made so that Linus Torvald could add support for pseudoterminals on a MINIX-based OS running on a 386 - so it's a end user PC OS, like NT is. However while Valve created a GUI that can run on Linux, Microsoft won't allow a shell replacement anymore.
    Reply
  • cryoburner
    mitch074 said:
    Not true, Linux was originally made so that Linus Torvald could add support for pseudoterminals on a MINIX-based OS running on a 386 - so it's a end user PC OS, like NT is. However while Valve created a GUI that can run on Linux, Microsoft won't allow a shell replacement anymore.
    But behind the scenes it's still not really any more of a "gaming OS" than Windows is, and if anything, support for gaming on it is more limited at this time. And a complete shell replacement for Windows isn't really necessary when similar results can be achieved through a launcher, like Steam's existing Big Picture mode, that is soon to be updated to the same interface as SteamOS.
    Reply
  • Mandark
    This is Chime Time to me
    CBzaqhJs0gcView: https://youtu.be/CBzaqhJs0gc
    Reply
  • mitch074
    cryoburner said:
    But behind the scenes it's still not really any more of a "gaming OS" than Windows is, and if anything, support for gaming on it is more limited at this time. And a complete shell replacement for Windows isn't really necessary when similar results can be achieved through a launcher, like Steam's existing Big Picture mode, that is soon to be updated to the same interface as SteamOS.
    Not true - the Windows shell takes up a lot of resource and has priority on rendering, which can break some games (that's the main reason why some games provide both full-screen and "borderless windowed" modes) - whereas on Linux you can completely shut down the shell and give full resources to the app running. That alone makes Linux a better gaming OS than Windows.
    Reply