Microsoft employees have explored the possibility of an optimized Windows user interface on Valve’s Steam Deck handheld PC. A video posted online by Twitter user h0x0d showcases a pitch made by the company at an internal event called the Microsoft Hackathon in September 2022.
Details of the Pitch
The Microsoft team, led by senior UX designer Dorothy Feng, presented a prototype operating system for the Steam Deck, addressing the challenges Steam Deck users face while running Windows on handheld hardware. The launcher would enable gamers to open games from multiple storefronts, including Steam, Epic Games Store, and the PC version of Game Pass. In addition, the operating system optimized the keyboard and featured a floating taskbar.
Current State of Windows Gaming on Steam Deck
Windows is far from optimized for the Steam Deck, and users face numerous issues with the operating system. Valve provides drivers to run Windows on its handheld device, but the experience remains suboptimal in comparison to SteamOS, the default operating system for the Steam Deck.
Call for Microsoft to “Get Serious” About Handheld Gaming
At the end of the video showcasing Microsoft’s pitch for an optimized Windows interface on the Steam Deck, the narrator calls for Microsoft to “get serious” about handheld gaming. Despite the rise of competing products like Aya Neo Pro, Aya Neo Air, and Asus’ ROG Ally handheld PC, the Steam Deck still remains unmatched. Enhancing the Windows experience on the handheld device could earn the company more credibility in the PC gaming community.
Alternatives to the Steam Deck
While the Steam Deck may be unmatched in the market, it also remains out of reach for some users due to its cost. Competing handheld PCs like the Aya Neo Pro and Aya Neo Air are available, but they come at a higher price point. Asus has also entered the market, recently unveiling its ROG Ally handheld PC with impressive hardware.
The concept of an optimized Windows user interface on the Steam Deck has garnered attention from gamers eager to see what Microsoft can bring to the table. While this is still just a pitch, improving the Windows experience on the Steam Deck could be a significant move for both Microsoft and Valve in terms of gaining an edge in the handheld gaming market.