Today Valve officially unveiled the Steam Deck, its portable handheld gaming machine, and it can run on Windows. You might think it already runs on Windows, but it actually runs on Valve’s SteamOS. Which is based on Linux. Valve created a custom version of the software to run specifically on this handheld. But it also didn’t want to lock out consumers from installing something else.
So you could, if you so desired, wipe SteamOS off of it completely and install Windows instead. This opens up the door for users to play non-Steam games. Whether you have games on Ubisoft Connect, or, dare we say it, the Epic Games Store, you could then install those game clients on this machine and play the games from your libraries there.
You could even install battle.net, and because the Steam Deck supports both wired and Bluetooth mouse and keyboard connections, you could use this to play games like World of Warcraft, Diablo, Overwatch and more. For Blizzard fans, this could be the portable gaming PC of their dreams.
The Steam Deck with Windows is basically a handheld Xbox
Microsoft apparently has no plans or interest in building a handheld Xbox. At least not any plans that it’s publicly shared. And a lot of its focus right now, outside of the Series X and Series S, is with Xbox Game Pass and its cloud gaming efforts.
The cloud is Microsoft’s way forward for portable Xbox gaming. But, with the Steam Deck, you just install Windows, then play all of the AAA Xbox games that are coming to PC on the Steam Deck instead. Without the cloud, without the need for internet (unless it’s an online game), and with decent performance and a controller already built-in.
For gamers on the go that are fans of the Xbox library, this is a machine that provides something you won’t generally get anywhere else. At least not on this caliber.
Quite a few games won’t work with SteamOS
Another thing to consider is game compatibility. Since this thing natively runs on SteamOS, the games you play will have to be compatible with SteamOS. And that means there is a good chance much of your library won’t be supported.
Sure, the biggest games will all have support. Like DOOM Eternal, Control, Hades and more. But Steam has over 50,000 games available. And less than 8,000 work with SteamOS or Linux. So installing Windows wouldn’t just turn this into a handheld Xbox. It would also allow you to play just about every game Steam offers.
The downside is that Valve hasn’t mentioned what installing Windows will be like. Or how games would run on it compared to SteamOS. Still, the option is there.
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