Microsoft's Hackathon Explores Running Windows on Valve's Steam Deck

Microsoft’s Hackathon Explores Running Windows on Valve’s Steam Deck

Microsoft is exploring the possibility of optimizing Windows 11 for gaming handhelds like the Valve Steam Deck, according to a recent hackathon project. The goal of the project, proposed in September 2021, was to improve driver support, refine the interface, and introduce tools to help users launch and exit games from multiple non-Steam services like Xbox Game Pass and GOG. This would allow Windows-powered handhelds to better compete with Linux-based systems like the Steam Deck.

The project was motivated by a desire to take advantage of Windows’ support for game mods and trainers, according to developer and Reddit user AndrewMT. While Xbox head Phil Spencer offered to help, the project “didn’t go much of anywhere” due to a lack of available resources. However, AndrewMT is hopeful that renewed interest in the project will help pitch the idea a second time.

Several gaming handhelds already run Windows out of the box, but require custom front-ends to compensate for Windows’ lack of optimization. A Windows-powered handheld with improved optimization could encourage more manufacturers to enter the market, as they wouldn’t have to spend as much time on software development.

While Microsoft has explored a prototype handheld interface, there is still considerable work necessary to make the proposal a practical reality. However, the project could represent a significant step forward for handheld gaming and Windows optimization.