One of the beautiful things about the Steam Deck is Valve’s commitment to an open ecosystem for its handheld PC. If Steam Deck users want to experiment beyond its default Arch-based SteamOS 3.0 software, they can simply install another operating system. That, of course, includes the ubiquitous Windows.
This exciting level of flexibility has led Xbox fans to wonder how well the Steam Deck might be able to handle Xbox games. While it isn’t clear what the compatibility might be like directly through the Windows 10 Xbox app, head of Xbox Phil Spencer is happy to report that the device is a great option for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers who have the privilege of playing select titles via xCloud. (Xbox Cloud Gaming can be accessed on a Steam Deck simply by opening its web browser and heading to Xbox.com.)
“After having mine most of the week I can say it’s a really nice device,” Spencer admitted in a tweet last week. “Games with me on the go, screen size, controls all great. Playing Halo and Age feels good, xCloud works well. Congrats SD team.”
“We don’t think people should be locked into a certain direction or a certain set of software that they can install,” said Valve designer Lawrence Yang in an interview with IGN. “If you buy a Steam Deck, it’s a PC. You can install whatever you want on it, you can attach any peripherals you want to it. Maybe a better way to think about it is that it’s a small PC with a controller attached as opposed to a gaming console.”
Available to reserve now in select regions, the Steam Deck will begin shipping in December 2021. None of the current reservations will ship until after Q2 2022, however.
Was @valvesoftware this week talking w/ Scott, Erik, Gabe about Steam Deck. After having mine most of the week I can say it's a really nice device. Games with me on the go, screen size, controls all great. Playing Halo and Age feels good, xCloud works well. Congrats SD team. pic.twitter.com/q4hWBvkk85— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) August 13, 2021
Will people be able to install Windows, or other 3rd party content?
Yes. Steam Deck is a PC, and players will be able to install whatever they like, including other OSes. – Official Steam Deck FAQ
Source: Phil Spencer