On the menu: a lock screen, a customizable keyboard, but also support for Windows 11.
Valve’s Steam Deck has just received a major update, with. On the menu for this version 3.1 of SteamOS: some significant modifications, including a lock screen, multitasking, and above all the official open door to the installation of Windows 11.
The most obvious modification is undoubtedly the one that awaits us as soon as the machine is started, namely the addition of a lock screen which hitherto was conspicuous by its absence. It is now possible to protect your machine from prying eyes and hands with a home screen that unlocks using a pin code.
We note that Valve had the good taste to assign each number to a key on the console. This allows the owner of the device to unlock it in two stages, three movements once the mechanical memory is properly installed.
A customizable lock screen and keyboard (finally!)
There is also a novelty that will make a big difference in some games. Valve has added an option that allows you to skip the famous cap of 60 frames per second. In theory this should improve the responsiveness of in-game controls a little bit in certain situations. Beware, however, of visual artifacts which traditionally tend to occur when the framerate is managed independently of the physical capabilities of the panel.
There is also improvement on the management side of the interface with several common sense modifications; we see that it is finally possible to change keyboard layout ! An anecdotal modification for American users, but which will breathe a sigh of relief to the European public for whom this limitation to QWERTY was as painful as it was incomprehensible.
Note also that it is now possible to change windows on the fly. All it takes is a simple press of the Steam button. A modification that could go unnoticed by some users, but which will undoubtedly appeal to multitasking enthusiasts.
The Steam Deck is now compatible with Windows 11
Finally, Valve also announces a firmware update with support for the fTPM standard. At the user level, this has a very concrete consequence: it means that the Steam Deck now ticks all the boxes necessary to host Windows 11.
Until now, the absence of this element dedicated to security had deprived the Valve machine of the latest Microsoft OS; users who absolutely wanted to install Windows had to settle for version 10. But this limitation has now been lifted.
Should I install Windows on my Steam Deck?
Does this mean that you have to rush to Windows 11 for all that? The answer depends on how you use your machine. Might as well say it right away, it will be a “no” resounding in the vast majority of cases.
Remember that the Steam Deck runs natively under SteamOS. It is a distribution of the open source Linux OS with the Proton platform, a compatibility system that allows games designed for Windows to run on this Unix platform.
For an uninformed user, this may sound like a disadvantage; might as well replace this obscure system with a well-known OS, right? Well no. Because if Valve went to all this trouble to develop a system specific to the Steam Deck, it’s because it did a specialized system, optimized precisely for in-game performance.
However, this is something that is simply impossible with a generalist OS as heavy and greedy as that of Microsoft. If you have a standard use of your Steam Deck, we strongly advise against giving in to the sirens of Windows unless you want to knowingly sacrificing in-game performance.
On the other hand, this modification will probably delight the most hackers of you; for those who have the necessary technical skills, this will make it possible to explore the limits, and even alternative uses of the machine.
Finally, there are also a slew of secondary, but welcome, changes that you can find directly on the patch note at this address. Finally, note that Valve strongly advises its customers to switch the Steam Deck to game mode before proceeding with the update (as opposed to desktop mode); otherwise the machine could lose control. You should then follow the instructions at this address to unlock it.