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Microsoft retools the Windows Xbox app to play nicer on handhelds

xbox app rog allyImage: Michael Crider/Foundry

There are a lot of Windows-powered alternatives to the Steam Deck. And one of their biggest problems is, well, Windows — it just isn’t designed for these tiny screens, and Valve’s home-brewed SteamOS runs circles around it in terms of interface and access to games. Microsoft is hoping to alleviate at least some of those problems with some updates to the Xbox app.

The Xbox app, you’ll recall, is Microsoft’s attempt to unify your gaming interface across PC and consoles…assuming you only use Xbox as a console. (And based on sales data, that’s a pretty small slice of the market. But I digress.) Microsoft introduced a “compact mode” for the app last year, which seems to be little more than a bit of menu shrinking based on my impressions.

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The newest update should be a bit more substantial, with a new portion of the home interface called “Jump Back In.” It’s basically the same idea as the “continue playing” thingie you see on streaming apps like Netflix. Your nine most recent games will appear right at the top of the UI. Microsoft is also tweaking the Friends panel to make it easier to access on handheld devices.

You’ll need to be part of the Xbox Insider program (which is different from Windows Insider, you don’t have to update the whole OS) to get access to Compact Mode and the latest tweaks. You can opt-in via the Windows Store here.

Earlier this year, Xbox chief Phil Spencer said Windows is holding gaming handhelds back. It’s good to see Microsoft actively doing something about it.

Michael is a former graphic designer who’s been building and tweaking desktop computers for longer than he cares to admit. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

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