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Friday, December 1, 2023

Microsoft explores ‘Handheld Mode’ gaming UI on Windows 11, similar to Steam Deck

Microsoft would like to update the Steam Deck so that it is compatible with Windows 11, as it is a popular and intriguing portable console PCD. The tech giant is considering a new user interface for Windows 11 called “Handheld Mode,” which would be designed specifically for laptops used for gaming.

Each year, Microsoft hosts an event called Hackathon, where employees and teams can get together to try out new, unorthodox ideas discussed the “Windows Handheld Mode” initiative, etc. Even though not all ideas conceived at Hackathons end up being commercialized, some do.

Microsoft employees will be challenged to work together across departments and think creatively during the event. One such idea that came out of the Windows team’s cross-functional approach was “Handheld mode for Windows,” which has the potential to be a very successful product.

Gaming UI on Windows 11
Windows 11’s Gaming User Interface (Image: Microsoft)

Some of the features of the handheld mode are as follows:

  • Tuned compatibility with your Deck’s hardware for smoother game loading and playback.
  • A streamlined app drawer for your handheld devices
  • Enhancements to the touch screen and display brightness in Windows for your portable device.

Our first look at Windows for handheld consoles

Microsoft has confirmed at the event that it is investigating the feasibility of adding support for “Windows Handheld Mode,” which would replace the standard Windows desktop interface with a console-style user interface. The new gaming shell UI, inspired by Android’s launcher, is tailor-made for handheld gaming PCs like the Steam Deck.

You can use your handheld without installing an updated version of Windows by switching to “Windows Gaming Handheld” mode. Instead, you can enable it in preferences, and it will be pinned to the taskbar without any further action on your part.

In addition to mapping your controller, you can select between high-performance and battery-saving modes.

An engineer at Microsoft thinks the company needs to make several adjustments to Windows 11 in order to develop a “minimum valuable product” for the market:

  • Develop a suitable controller-operated touch keyboard.
  • Enhanced toolbar (accessible by Second-Moment Recap).
  • Scaling in Ul optimized.
  • Functions in Windows, such as Task View, have been mapped to these controls.
  • Also, make sure that all of your currently open windows are maximized.
  • A powerful game launcher that can cut down on loading times.
  • Easy access to the hardware and user preferences.
  • Games can be pinned to the home screen and favorited apps and stores can be rearranged to suit your tastes with the launcher’s customization options.

The engineer also thinks Microsoft should improve the Xbox Game Bar and Xbox App.

The tech giant plans to make Windows 11’s interface more like a launcher for video games so that players can quickly browse the Microsoft Store for new titles and control the operating system with a gamepad.

“Windows and Xbox app users deserve this, need this,” Microsoft officials wrote in the hackathon project description.

As well as being a goodwill gesture to the PC gaming community (further improving Windows’ and Xbox’s image and cred), a Windows gaming experience optimized for handhelds represents a new revenue stream. Let’s take handheld gaming on Windows seriously, so let’s build slowly, show off demos, and generate buzz.

A search bar sits atop the launcher, the system tray has been streamlined to highlight the essentials, and a game launcher sits at the screen’s base for instant access.

Even if the results of a Hackathon aren’t implemented, the event still benefits Microsoft by encouraging employees to try new things and think outside the box, which can lead to important discoveries and innovations. Microsoft’s continued success in the technology industry can be attributed to the company’s emphasis on encouraging a culture of innovation and creativity.

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