According to a leak, Microsoft is working on a handheld version of Windows 11 for gamers.
Via a leak of an internal Microsoft hackathon event held back in September 2023, apparently, Microsoft is testing out a portable Windows 11 gaming interface to be used with handheld devices like Steam Deck. Of course, a leak from an internal event isn’t a confirmation of anything, but this could be a sign that Microsoft is going to take handheld gaming a lot more seriously in the coming years.
According to the leak, this interface is called “Windows Handheld Mode” and it’s essentially a UI option for Windows 11 outside of its traditional desktop UI. To some extent, this looks similar to how Windows 8 worked with its traditional interface vs. its newer, more tablet-focused interface. However, further details about what features the interface might support or how it all works exactly are currently unknown, especially considering this isn’t a formal product as of yet.
On one hand, while it would certainly be nice to have a dedicated version of Windows 11 for handhelds like Steam Deck, there are definitely reasons outside of interface issues why Windows isn’t necessarily the greatest fit for a handheld gaming computer. For one, Windows is a relatively hardware-intensive operating system that comparatively low-powered portables aren’t always great candidates to run, which is part of why Steam Deck, for example, comes with SteamOS out of the box and not Windows 11, regardless of interface.
Nonetheless, Microsoft giving the ever-growing handheld gaming PC market some love via a new interface option for Windows 11 would absolutely be a win for anybody interested in doing some Windows gaming on the go. And who knows, perhaps if this interface actually comes out there will be other features aimed at handheld gaming PCs that come with the new interface, as well. As of now, only time will tell, but it’s worth keeping an eye out.