Microsoft may add a Windows 11 “Handheld Mode” for handheld gaming consoles like Steam Deck

Reportedly, Microsoft is working on a hackathon project to bring up better support for handheld gaming devices.

Hackathons are events where teams get together to work on an idea. While most of the time these ideas never become real products, sometimes they form into a product that makes it to consumers. The idea behind the hackathon project was to take a look into what a “truly optimized handheld mode,” would look like.

Windows Handheld Mode

Windows Handheld Mode could open games from Steam, PC Game Pass, EA Play, Epic Games Store, and more

Microsoft is testing a new “Handheld Mode” for Windows 11, an interface optimized for handheld Steam Deck-like devices. Thanks to a leaked video posted on Twitter by h0x0d, we know that video comes from a Hackathon project held by Microsoft that took place in September last year. 

The “Windows Handheld Mode” details a new gaming shell interface that can open games from Steam, PC Game Pass, EA Play, Epic Games Store, and more. It will replace the usual Windows 11 desktop interface on handheld gaming devices, designed to make launching games and navigating Windows much easier with gaming controls.

Windows Handheld Mode

The “Windows Handheld Mode” also aims to fix primary problems and inconveniences in modern handhelds running Windows, such as poor controls in non-Steam games, lack of display and UI optimizations, many additional launchers, and more.

To solve those issues developers are implementing a keyboard to control from a gamepad, creating a single place for all their games, optimizing UI scaling, delivering a better onboarding experience, and addressing fixes for minor things that break the experience.

The video also details the current limitation of running Windows 11 on handheld devices like the Steam Deck. Although there are drivers for Windows on Steam Deck, it is not easy to navigate whether with a controller or touch because the system doesn’t understand the device.

According to the presentation, all the proposed changes are achievable with the “right specialists and expertise.” However, it’s unclear if the “Handheld Mode” will ever ship, so do not get your hopes too high.

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