Portable handheld gaming consoles have been a thing for quite some time now, but the performance capabilities of these devices have risen significantly in the last couple of years. But even though they’re more powerful these days, with smaller batteries and lack of a keyboard, running full versions of Windows on them can be quite a slog at times. Perhaps realising this, Microsoft is already working on a different version of Windows designed around these portable gaming consoles.
In a video leaked onto Twitter by user @_h0x0d, it shows of early concepts of Windows in handheld mode for gaming consoles such as the Valve Steam Deck, GPD Win 4 and Ayaneo 2. You can see from the video below what appears to be a launcher UI, a new keyboard and specifically mentions Steam Deck support as a priority. It shows all the problems Windows users currently face when using the operating system on a handheld gaming device too.
The video looks to be from a hackathon project made within Microsoft sometime in September last year. These kinds of hackathons are typically great fun that allow employees to experiment with new ideas and projects with the best ones sometimes impressing management enough to get a full go-ahead for the project.
It’s hard to tell if the project did actually get off the ground inside Microsoft or remains limited to this hackathon in September 2022, but there are some positive signs we can glean off it. The floating taskbar seen in the video for example has since already been teased by Microsoft in October last year; during last year’s Microsoft Ignite keynote the Redmond company seemingly accidentally used a concept UI with a floating taskbar too while the system tray was moved to the top.
If Microsoft really is working on this, then the biggest winner of this project could actually end up being Asus. The Taiwanese giant had recently just teased the ROG Ally, their own take on a Steam Deck rival, but unlike Valve they will be using Windows on it. With Asus and Microsoft already having a long relationship prior to this, we wouldn’t be surprised to see this new Windows for handheld debut with the ROG Ally.