During the Microsoft Hackhaton, an annual event organized by the Redmond firm, engineers presented a very promising concept: transforming the interface of Windows 11 to adapt it to portable consoles. Inevitably, Steam instantly comes to mind. Here’s what that operating system might look like.
Microsoft keeps reminding us: Windows 11 was designed to make life easier for gamers. It is not for nothing that many modders have ventured to install the OS on their Steam Deck, in order to have access to additional features, such as the Xbox Game Pass. The practice has grown so popular that Valve ended up officially adding Windows 11 support to its handheld console last year.
However, while Windows 11 was designed in part for gaming, it certainly wasn’t for portable gaming. Indeed, this would require a complete review of the interface to stick to the specific needs of this type of support. However, for the time being, no project of this caliber is officially under construction at Microsoft. At least, for the time being, because that could well change thanks to a very promising concept.
Discover Windows Handheld, Microsoft’s OS for portable consoles
Windows Handheld is a concept organized each year by Microsoft, in order to allow its engineers to develop innovative ideas for the firm. As its name suggests, this is therefore a version of the operating system designed specifically for portable consoles. The employees thus imagined a completely reworked interface, like what Windows 10X could have been before the abandonment of the project.
Also, several features dedicated to this OS have been conceptualized by the engineers, such as a new launcher which would bring together the player’s entire toy library as well as the game stores installed, or even an optimization of performance and of the touch screen for the console on which it is installed. Here is a video that presents the project in more detail, shared by the leaker WalkingCat:
Thus, the entire interface should be transformed to suit players, especially at the keyboard and the taskbar. In this regard, the developers pointed out several problems that this project raises. The result was a to-do list to fulfill all of Windows Handheld’s promises:
- Create a suitable touch keyboard that can be used with a gamepad
- Optimize the taskbar on the model introduced by Moment 2
- Optimize the definition of the interface according to the screen
- Map controls to Windows-exclusive features, like Task View
- Make sure all open windows are maximized
- Develop a powerful launcher to reduce the opening time of games
- Allow quick access to hardware settings
- Allow to configure preferences, pinned games, etc.
- Optimize how Xbox Game Bar and the Xbox app work
On the same subject — Steam Deck: Windows is much less powerful than SteamOS, wait before installing it
Will we ever see Windows Handheld on a portable console?
For the moment, nothing is less certain. Indeed, this concept is for the moment, precisely, only a concept. The projects presented during the Hackhaton rarely see the light of day and serve above all to boost the creativity of Microsoft employees. That being said, you should never say never, especially since several elements argue in favor of the real creation of the OS.
For starters, of course, there’s the Steam Deck, which alone launched a whole wave of portable consoles trying to carve out a place in a resurrected market, as shown by the promising Asus ROG Ally. However, not everyone will be equipped with SteamOS, and will therefore have to turn to an alternative, thus creating a tremendous opportunity for Microsoft.
“Windows and Xbox users deserve this, need this”commented a Microsoft executive during the Hackhaton. “A Windows gaming experience tailored to portable devices represents a new source of revenue in many ways, as well as a gesture of goodwill to the PC gaming community. Let’s build incrementally, release previews, build excitement and take [le projet] seriously “.