How to Install KDE in Windows

For over a decade, KDE has supplied Linux and Unix users with a graphical desktop environment and a suite of useful applications. It has become one of the most popular desktop environments and is the default on many Linux distributions. With the coming of KDE 4, developers promised native KDE applications running on Windows. While the current release is still not ready for production, as of KDE 4.3.3, it is coming closer and worth trying. What follows is a brief guide to getting KDE running on Windows.


The Windows download for KDE is not very obvious on the main KDE download page. It is not clear if this is deliberate, since it is still unstable, but the Windows installer for KDE is actually available on the KDE website.  Download the .exe file and save it. Double-click it to run the installer, just as you would for any other Windows program.



At this point you have only downloaded the small installation file and not the actual KDE packages. Therefore, select the first option in the installation window “Install from Internet”. The next screen will present you with several options about how to install KDE. Unless you are a developer or have some specific reason to choose the other options, just choose “End User”. This will install the binary packages for KDE, whereas the other options all require you to compile KDE from source.


On the next screen, you can choose which KDE programs to install. As you will see, there are quite a few KDE applications now available, although some are still missing. Select as many or as few as you like. Even if you realize that you want to install more software, the installer will let you install just those later on, without having to reinstall the previous ones.


Click next and follow the rest of the instructions just as you would with a normal installer. When it is complete, it will ask you if you want to run System Settings. Check the box and proceed.

Configure and Use


The System Settings program is currently functional, although many settings are not yet available to Windows users.  Click on the “Advanced” tab and then click the “Platform” button. This is a unique non-Unix feature that allows you to select the level of Windows integration. Currently, Plasma is not available but apparently will be in the future.

Next, click on the “General” tab and click “Appearance“.  Click the “Style” button and choose the widget style you prefer. KDE can integrate with the default Windows style or use the default KDE style: Oxygen.


Finally, run KDE applications just like you run regular Windows ones: directly from the Start Menu. KDE games work particularly well, as does the KDE text editor, Kate, which we covered two weeks ago. Always keep in mind that this software is not yet complete, but what they do have available works pretty well. For information and customization options, be sure to read the KDE TechBase documentation on Windows. KDE is free and open source software, which you can freely download, install, and redistribute.


Tavis J. Hampton

Tavis J. Hampton is a freelance writer from Indianapolis. He is an avid user of free and open source software and strongly believes that software and knowledge should be free and accessible to all people. He enjoys reading, writing, teaching, spending time with his family, and playing with gadgets.


  1. I tried it couple of days ago. I have only 2 big complaints that bothered me:
    1. No support for google talk in kopete
    2. I was not able to open pdf files with okular.

    I hate it every time i have to use win, and thought to lessen my sorrow with set of familiar applications :D:D

    1. Having not tried kde in windows… does ‘jabber’ not work in kopete in windows? google talk runs on jabber protocol so to use it in kopete you have to set it up with jabber.

  2. I tried it a while back. Liked the idea, but it is still not very usable. I would like to use KDE instead of Windows Explorer, but it seems like it’s still too early. At this point, since I don’t have XP anymore & mostly use Ubuntu, there is no point for me to go back to KDE on win. Still a great project, but I’ll probably never use it. Sad… a little. ;)

  3. Why?

    The major issue that Linux users have with Windows is not so much the ease of use of the desktop, it’s more the stuff behind the desktop – file fragmentation, security holes, increasingly poor system performance etc.

    Putting KDE, which utilises all the advantages of Linux, onto a Windows box does not magically transform it – it’s still a Windows box underneath, with all of the idiosyncracies of the Windows OS.

    In other words, it’s like putting lipstick on a pig. Sure it’s prettier, but it’s still a pig underneath.

    1. It allows people choice… and also lets them transition from windows to linux. My girlfriend thinks amarok 2.x is amazing but she is not about to dump windows for linux just because of that one program.

      But get someone used to using opensource software like firefox, Open office, amarok etc… eventually the thought might cross their mind to try out an opensource OS.

    2. also it gives a more comfortable environment for those of us who prefer linux, that for some reason must use windows.

  4. Is there any software that doesn’t run without the K Libs that is compelling enough to do this?
    Does it work on Windows 98?

    These are both relevant questions for schools.


  5. No doubt, KDE on Windows definitely still has issues, Okular and Gwenview especially. Still, as wren pointed out, it is something that can attract people to Linux or other free operating systems. Someone may use one KDE program on Windows, and then you can come along and say, “Hey, you know there are whole operating systems that use free software like this” *wink wink nudge nudge*

    The same is true for KDE on Mac. The thing about free software is that it is up to the users to promote it. We have to be willing to do that. That’s what I try to do on MakeTechEasier. Hopefully, it will do some good.

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