Feedback on Windows OS for Handhelds

Hi All,

I talk with our friends at Microsoft pretty regularly about the Legion Go and the customer experience on it.  Looking at the OS specifically (and only), in relation to Gaming Handhelds (like the Legion Go), what improvements or features would you like to see implemented? 

You can look at it from the perspective of...

  • Things that could be done right now with policy changes/modifications to the existing OS
  • Features that could be implemented later to help better navigate the OS or provide handheld-specific functionality that you feel may currently be missing

Again for this discussion, let's exclude Legion or Lenovo SW unless it specifically ties into your feedback around the OS-level implementation.  Want to try to provide Microsoft with some actionable feedback around Windows implementation on Gaming Handhelds.  Encourage you to use the voting system as well to bubble up some of the more desired implementations.

Appreciate your time!

  • I wish Microsoft would bring back tablet mode. I have an older handheld PC that is on Windows 10 and having access to a full screen start menu that plays nicely with a controller is a good start. Same for removing swiping from the left to switch app and replacing it with a widget menu that is pretty useless. It seems a waste for Microsoft to get rid of the touch optimizations they had between Windows 10 and 11.

    I don't want to completely get rid of the desktop either because I love mods. The base is good, Windows just needs a simplified interface for interacting with games and launchers and a version that automatically shuts off services that a handheld just doesn't need. Refine Windows gaming mode.

  • Just some things id like from an OS level:

    1. A nice graphical user interface that will look and play more like a smart phone. I think the desktop screen is too small and requires too many inputs to make it work.

    2. Ability to turn on and off a desktop/gaming/tablet mode

    3. Debloat windows for handheld use. Meaning, all the applications pre installed should be removed unless it provides functionality to gaming specifically. Still give us the option to add it later if we want but dont force it on us.

    4. Give us the option to map different standard controllers to windows functions. Sort of like the autohotkeys program functionality but baked into windows

    5. The option for different handheld based themes. Think of this as a gaming handheld device and not a desktop device used for productivity. We should be able to switch between the two environments. When we are gaming (choose to set which environment we want during login) we can set the gaming environment. When we are doing productivity set this environment. (Think about how the steam deck has a gaming environment but you can go to desktop mode. No reason to reinvent the wheel here)

    6. The taskbar is just down right clunky and aged on a handheld. It feels like something from the 90's and it just doesnt belong on a handheld(at least in gaming mode)

  • For the Legion Go, it would be nice to navigate windows with the analog. Track pad is good but controller support or fully keyboard config on Legion Space would alleviate navigation. 

  • I dont want tablet mode back. I want a gaming mode introduced. Thats specific to gaming devices and handhelds. Maybe they can have gaming mode, tablet mode, desktop mode even. 

  • These points are bang on. I hate to bring up a competitor, but part of the allure of the Steam Deck is its interface. It's easy to get in and out of games, and the gaming experience is at the forefront and a full fledge operating system second. So being mindful of the differences would be helpful. Larger text and buttons to interact with, the aforementioned ability to get in and out of games quickly and easily, all of the handheld settings easily accessible, and maybe, a consistent onboarding wizard or guide to help folks get started.

    I think one of the biggest downsides of Windows handhelds over the Steam OS, is its onboarding. It appeals to console gamers and mobile gamers because their onboarding process is seamless and easy to navigate. I get that the experience is different when operating a gaming PC experience, but for handhelds, I'd love to see this incorporated. We get that persistent Windows updates and driver updates are necessary, but much like proton and shaders on Steam, having these things update in the background on a handheld would be very appealing for those who aren't as familiar with this process. Right now, the Go in particular, you have to go through multiple places in order to successfully update your system to an optimal state. While classic PC gamers might not have any issues with that, that onboarding process is critical to luring the casual, console, or mobile gamers, imo. 

  • I do think valve hit the gui out of the park. Id love to see a windows iteration of this same thing. Give us the ability to switch between modes though thats SUPER important. 

  • Agreed and part of that is providing information to the lowest common denominator. For instance, if you're not a classic PC gamer, you have no idea what TDP means or what it does. But there's a way to convey that to users who don't know what that means in such a way that users find it helpful to them. I think you provide a gaming handheld experience tailored to the novice, coming from the X-Box or mobile gaming, style of gamer, but also allow for those who love to tinker to still get what they want and need as well. Valve really nailed this and would love to see Windows really dedicate to a gaming OS and not just Windows, condensed.

  • 100% couldn't agree more! I think tablet mode and gaming mode and desktop mode should all have different abilities and functionalities. Gaming mode should feel like a console in hand held form. Tablet mode should be more of productivity but with the ability to game. Desktop mode should be just that. When a handheld is docked its being used as a normal desktop. 

  • we should be able to configure and use OS 95% of the time via the controllers, console (Xbox, PS, Nintendo) work like it, why not migrate Xbox subsystem and make it overlay over w11? another option

  • One last point, since Windows is so wide and manufacturers like Lenovo and Asus are creating their own "interface" for gamers, I do think Legion Space could stand for a rebrand. Reading on reddit and my own experience, I don't use Legion Space because the user experience is clunky. I get it from a business standpoint, but not from a user perspective, but the home page can't be marketing to buy new games. It should be focused on the games I'm playing so I can quickly hop back into a game with as few extra thumb presses as possible. The storefront should be a completely separate page within the interface. And the artwork and ability to customize your games and how they look or can be organized would also be useful from a UI standpoint. There's a reason why I've read a lot of users immediately disabling Legion Space in favor of Playnite or Steam Big Picture. It's just a more appealing, feature rich experience.

    So if it falls more on the manufactures to create the up-front experience instead of Windows, then the concept is the same. Provide an easy to understand user interface that allows folks to quickly turn on the device and hop right into a game. I've created this process myself, by changing the power button to go to hibernate instead of sleep, and then boot right into Steam Big Picture so I can quickly jump into a game. I basically created the Steam Deck experience on Windows. But the process to get there wasn't easily. I'm normally a console gamer, but just happen to know my way around Windows and was willing to put forth the effort to research reddit for answers. Casual gamers aren't going to do that, which is why you see al to of videos of people opting to return their devices.