Microsoft testing Windows gaming handheld mode for Steam Deck and other portables

The video stems from a hackathon project inside Microsoft in September

Microsoft could be looking into exploring the possibility of a Windows handheld mode for devices such Valve’s Steam Deck, after a leaked Twitter video showed what looks to be a prototype from the company.

The Twitter video posted by the user by @h0x0d, appears to show an early concept of Windows 11 UI for handheld devices. It also features a launcher and Windows gaming shell designed for touchscreens and controllers.

The video stems from a hackathon project inside Microsoft in September. The event usually sees ideas and projects presented by employees that sometimes end up getting support from Microsoft executives.

As echoed by the narrator in the video, the current option to run Windows on handheld gaming devices has been chock-full of issues. Valve offers drivers to run Windows on its Steam Deck, but with no dedicated launcher (like SteamOS has) and a hard-to-navigate UI, maybe it is time for an upgrade.

Further, some handheld gaming devices, such as the Ayaneo 2, already rely on Windows without optimizations. This requires the companies to build their own interfaces and launchers to smooth out the process.

The video goes on to reference prototype handheld work done by a senior UX designer at Microsoft, Dorthy Feng. Most notably, it includes a launcher capable of opening games from Steam, Epic Games Store, PC Game Pass, EA Play and more. It also features a Steam Deck-optimized keyboard and a floating taskbar.

The prototype wasn’t the only thing to come out of the hackathon project, with another developer creating a way to use Steam Deck controls across Windows and Hayden McAfee, a senior software engineer for Microsoft, designing a gaming shell for Windows.

The project resulted in drivers and services being installed, controllers beginning to work and a functional launcher. Although early, things are looking promising for an updated gaming experience with Windows.

If the work done on the project wasn’t enough incentive, the video ends with a call to action directed at fellow Microsoft employees to “get serious about handheld gaming on Windows.”

Although the demo is all we have for right now, don’t be surprised if you see Microsoft inch closer to its own handheld mode for gaming devices in the future.

Image credit: Shutterstock

Source: @h0x0d Via: The Verge