Microsoft employees created a project to develop a version of Windows for portable consoles – a format that gained strength with the Switch and the Steam Deck. The “Handheld Mode” for Windows was introduced in a hackathon held by Microsoft for its employees. Video of the presentation was leaked on Twitter and focuses on operating system issues when installed on Steam Deck.
The hackathon in which the project was created took place in September 2022. In the midst of operating system improvements on handhelds, there is even an “old resource” shown by Microsoft.
There is no information (or leaks) if Microsoft approved and proceeded with the hackathon project, even if in the video the employee says that the company needs to take Windows seriously on portable consoles. However, it is an idea that the company should not waste time on.
Steam Deck runs Windows, but not quite
Steam Deck ships with SteamOS 3, based on Linux, and allows the user to install Windows or another operating system. But the Microsoft OS doesn’t “run smooth” on the handheld PC. It was never prepared for a handheld device.
In the video of pitch From Windows to handheld consoles, the narrator concisely presents the problems of using the operating system on Steam Deck. Among the problems are the lack of support for controls outside of Steam, the failure of games to recognize the size of the screen and even games not opening – even though the console runs practically all Steam games, including Elden Ring.
As shown in the video, apart from gameplay problems, Windows also does not deliver a good experience on Steam Deck. A good example of this is the virtual keyboard. If you want to type something into the search, you’ll suffer from typing. A second leaked video shows the MVP (minimum viable product) version of Windows Handheld Mode — the name given by the Hackathon team.
In this second video, the narrator explains that Windows usability changes for portables have solved the most basic issues, including support for non-Steam controllers. The floating taskbar, which already appeared in a presentation with Satya Nadella, was adopted in the OS version.
Windows for handheld PCs is a logical idea for Microsoft
Even if it is still an internal project, developed in an activity for employees, a way of Windows for portable consoles, “handheld PCs”, handhelds, is a logical path for Microsoft.
The company owns Xbox Game Pass, invests heavily in cloud gaming, and would benefit from a friendlier Windows interface on portable consoles. Not to mention that there are companies betting on this device format.
Without mentioning the Steam Deck and the Switch (which is not a handheld PC), Razer launched the Edge, a “gaming tablet”. Asus introduced the ROG Ally on April 1st and had to confirm two days later that he’s real. Asus’ handheld console runs Windows 11, but it’s nowhere near launch. Therefore, we do not know how the system will run on this device.
However, Ayaneo 2 uses Windows and some reviews do not like of the result. What we are sure for now is that there are companies investing in portable consoles and that the market is enjoying it. Microsoft just needs to expand access to Game Pass.
With information: The Verge