But Windows isn’t an ideal operating system for the Steam Deck, at least not out of the box. Its mouse-and-keyboard-oriented user interface isn’t comfortable or convenient to use on a small handheld system like the Steam Deck. Windows 11 makes some allowances for touchscreens, but its buttons and menus can still be hard to tap on such a small screen. The controller doesn’t work outside of Steam, including on Windows’ touchscreen keyboard, and installing drivers and launching games for the first time can be a pain.
Microsoft is aware of the problems running Windows on the Steam Deck and other similar handheld Windows PCs, and at least some developers inside the company have spent time thinking of ways to address them. That’s the thrust of a leaked presentation (posted in two parts by Twitter user _h0x0d_) about a new “Handheld Mode” for Windows, developed as part of an internal Microsoft hackathon in September 2022.
Windows just isn’t a great operating system choice for these handheld PC gaming devices, and slapping a skin on it is not going to change that. Valve can integrate Linux and Proton with the hardware of the Steam Deck, and fine tune both down to the very source code – and considering Valve’s many contributions to open source, that’s exactly what it’s doing.
Meanwhile, if you’re one of those companies making Steam Deck competitors running Windows – you’re shit out of luck. All you can do is add crapware left and right to hide the Windows of it all, but in the end, you just can’t optimise the software for the hardware in the same way Valve can.
I would not be so negative.
My Deck dual boots to Windows for games not available natively. Or rather not available on the Steam storefront, as others like GOG, Epic, Microsoft/Xbox, EA/Origin, Ubi, etc all have their separate launchers, most of which don’t work at all, or those do, they would work with issues.
(Yes, there is Heroic, and Lutris. Some discussion here: https://www.reddit.com/r/SteamDeck/comments/urya9z/questions_about_lutris_vs_heroic/)
And Windows games just work, except the shell itself. And I am sure Steam’s own “full screen interface” (Big Picture) would also be great, if you can get through other issues (logging in, virtual keyboards, network setup, disk management, etc).
So, this is a win for the gamers.
As for the Deck alternatives, yes good luck to them. Deck is already pretty good with a nice price, though I always welcome more competition.
Some people are quite forgetful…
Windows 8, the OS everyone loves to hate, was a specifically designed for tablet use. The introduction of a full screen “start” page, the rollout of touch-friendly “modern” apps, and a complete overhaul of the backend of Win32 to natively support high resolution displays and UI scaling.
Sure, Windows 8 was a bit of a flop, mainly because most people were still using it on a mouse-and-keyboard driven computer, and the touch-friendly UI was not particularly suitable for this. However, with Windows 10 and Windows 11, those touch-friendly UI additions were paired back, but not totally removed. Therefore, it should be trivial to make another touch-friendly Windows edition, even if it’s marketed as a “same but different” OS to the standard mouse-and-keyboard editions shipped with most PCs.
“Windows just isn’t a great operating system choice for these handheld PC gaming devices, and slapping a skin on it is not going to change that.”
Really Thom? The guys that have a stripped down version of Windows running every Xbox ever can’t make a decent handheld UI? Your bias is a little more than showing. And of course someone already said something about Windows 8, but that was a hostile attempt to force it on users that didn’t want it. This is of course an attempt to make something good for users that do want it.