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Microsoft experiments with a handheld Windows 11 mode for Steam Deck

By - | Views: 37,644

Update 13/04/23, 17:11 UTC: the developer involved is playing it down noting it didn't go anywhere and it's not a recent thing, mentioning in a Reddit post ("this article" is referencing The Verge):

I started this hackathon project and it didn’t go much of anywhere, but this article uses wording to make it seem like it’s something under development. Problem is - We just didn’t have the right engineers to do a lot of what we wanted to do in the short hackathon project timeframe. Maybe this odd article can help me pitch this to Microsoft again. Phil Spencer was very nice and tried to drive me to some people that could help, but everyone was tied-up at the time.

Original article below:

This is interesting, it seems Valve have lit a small fire under Microsoft once again, as they've been experimenting with a handheld mode for Windows 11 to help devices like the Steam Deck.

To pre-empt complaints from some comments: yeah, I know, this isn't specifically Linux news but things happening in the industry are important.

With thanks to Twitter user @_h0x0d_ noticed by The Verge, they shared what seems to be an internal video from Microsoft developers talking about a Hackathon they did to optimise Windows 11 for handhelds. The important point here, is that it's largely due to the popularity and success of the Steam Deck which ships with SteamOS Linux.

You can get Windows on Steam Deck but it's not exactly supported, with Valve just throwing up the drivers for download that they occasionally update. Valve's focus of course is on SteamOS, where they have all of the control they want for their own device.

Pictured Credit - @_h0x0d_

During the Microsoft's developers testing they also worked with another developer to work on a project that gives a "windows usermode controller driver for the steam deck internal controller".

It's interesting to see Microsoft developers react to a change in the market like this, although it might never actually become a real thing, it would depend on them gathering more support inside Microsoft to make it happen. Competition is good though, and it might even give Valve perhaps a few ideas or even the KDE team to improve the Plasma Desktop experience.

Article taken from
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I am the owner of GamingOnLinux. After discovering Linux back in the days of Mandrake in 2003, I constantly came back to check on the progress of Linux until Ubuntu appeared on the scene and it helped me to really love it. You can reach me easily by emailing GamingOnLinux directly.
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mr-victory Apr 13
QuoteDialed-in support for your Deck's hardware
Wait WHAT? I thought this was aimed at Windows devices, not Steam Deck. Do they really expect people to install Windows?
elmapul Apr 13
forget aya neo, asus rog, gpd and etc, this is the thing we should be afraid of.

an good UX is one of the biggest reasons other handhelds are strugling to compete with steamOS/Steamdeck, especially if we consider that this may integrate with all windows launchers.

not to mention that, even if the deck still get the edge when it comes to performance, microsoft can launch their own devices and things can go south , but that will take a while to happen.
Izaic Apr 13
Regardless of competition in the hardware and software space, a competent handheld really needs Steam to be a good alternative to the SteamDeck. So regardless, valve will still get their cake from Steam purchases on that device.
Zappor Apr 13
Quoting: elmapulforget aya neo, asus rog, gpd and etc, this is the thing we should be afraid of.

However I think aya neo, asus rog, gpd are probably the main drivers behind this project... ?
CAVR Apr 13
I have very mixed feelings about this. From one side is nice to have more attention on the Deck/Handheld-PC-gaming to make developers have games that are more scalable to support "lower-specs" hardware, but on the other hand, this could make developers stop bothering with Linux/Proton at all, since they could say: just install the Windows gaming UI on it. We all know what this would bring: many other decades of bloated and closed proprietary crap. This could be very bad news.

Edit: typo

Last edited by CAVR on 13 April 2023 at 2:18 pm UTC
kokoko3k Apr 13
Is there any kind of source about the fact that it is the Steam Deck to have pushed Microsoft more than other reasons or it is deduction/speculation?
Liam Dawe Apr 13
Quoting: kokoko3kIs there any kind of source about the fact that it is the Steam Deck to have pushed Microsoft more than other reasons or it is deduction/speculation?
They talk about it very clearly in the video. The screenshot from it in the article even mentions the Deck directly ;)

Last edited by Liam Dawe on 13 April 2023 at 1:55 pm UTC
Steam OS is optimized for all things on Steam Deck. Install a "crippled down" version of Win 11: there are no guarantees for anything. Working touchpads, networking etc. Never mind any official support from Microsoft IF someone is to start to process on installing and using Win 11 on Steam Deck.

Looks like Microsoft are out of ideas on stopping freedom and Linux.
Opinion: the image in this article looks like a concept and not something Microsoft would actually make.
Grogan Apr 13
Quoting: DellOptiplex9020Opinion: the image in this article looks like a concept and not something Microsoft would actually make.

Sure they would. Look what they did with "netbooks", they brought Windows XP out of retirement, just because they couldn't stand that those devices were shipping with Linux. They they moved them to "starter" editions of Vista, and they became quite horrid.
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