Microsoft's Steam Deck experiment brings us one step closer to an Xbox handheld
Microsoft is looking to improve Windows gaming on handheld devices
The chances of Microsoft making a true Xbox handheld are slim, but with the Steam Deck and more portable PC devices hitting the market, the prospect of playing some of the best Xbox Series X games on the go remains an enticing proposition.
That’s not to say you can’t already accomplish this, but the experience isn’t exactly optimal, especially on Steam Deck. Valve’s handheld uses SteamOS to deliver console-like features and excellent optimization, and there are many first-party Microsoft games that aren’t available on Steam.
➡️ The Shortcut Skinny: Xbox handheld
👀 A leaked video from Microsoft’s hackathon project spells good news for handheld gamers
👍 Some Microsoft employees want to improve Windows gaming on handhelds like the Steam Deck
🤞 The project is “feasible” but might never see the light of day
🤩 It would make the prospect of owning an Xbox handheld a real possibility
You also miss out on the benefits of PC Game Pass, which includes hundreds of games to play as a part of a monthly subscription. PC Game Pass is included with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for anyone who likes to play on a console and PC – you can save $11 with our Xbox Game Pass Ultimate 12 month discount trick.
This conundrum could be solved in the future, however, as Microsoft has been experimenting with a Windows gaming handheld mode for the Steam Deck. Spotted by The Verge, a leaked hackathon project in 2022 – where employees present new ideas or projects to Microsoft executives – shows the company is looking to solve the biggest barrier to playing Windows games on Valve’s handheld and improve the experience on other devices like the ASUS ROG Ally.
A video of Windows Handheld Mode was shared by Twitter user _h0x0d_, which includes narration of some of the problems Windows faces on handhelds, as well as how the new mode would work.
There are a lot of issues that Microsoft would need to work out before handheld mode could roll out globally, such as making Windows optimizations and tweaks, creating a robust launcher to help you find your games easily, and optimizing the Windows 11 Game Bar and the Xbox App.
However, as the narrator notes in the video, “a lot of these things seem feasible as long as we have the right specialist and the right expertise”, but that doesn’t mean it will ever see the light of day. As with any business decision, Microsoft will have to weigh up the time and resources, and if there’s any return on investment before it proceeds.
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