Microsoft has released a new user interface (UI) update for the Xbox app, which is intended to enhance the app’s usability on small Windows-based handheld gaming PCs, such as the Lenovo Legion Go and ROG Ally. Players now have more room to explore content thanks to this new layout, known as “compact mode,” which collapses the left sidebar into icons. Although it’s not a significant update, Microsoft has made progress in making Windows 11’s portable gaming experience better.
The Xbox app, for those who are unfamiliar, is the central location for all of Microsoft’s Windows game content. It allows you to purchase PC games and access Xbox Game Pass. The Xbox store, Game Pass, your library, cloud streaming, and all of your most recently played games are all easily accessible from the sidebar to the left of the home screen.
The Xbox sidebar collapses to a size that is almost four times smaller than its default size when in the compact mode. Although this might not seem like a big deal when using the Xbox app on a desktop or laptop, it makes a noticeable difference when using the app on portable devices. All of the previously mentioned options remain accessible even in compact mode; the only thing that differs is that each icon in compact mode lacks a name tag.
In order to guarantee that portable devices are always in compact mode, Microsoft also states that it is collaborating with Asus and other device makers. Alternatively, you can toggle on compact mode by clicking on your profile picture in the upper left corner of the Xbox app. Compact mode is compatible with all Windows 11 devices, including desktops and laptops, and is not limited to handled devices alone.
Although compact mode isn’t a significant UI update, it does indicate that Microsoft is now focused on enhancing the Windows 11 mobile user experience and is aware of the needs of portable PC gamers. It’s not surprising if Microsoft is drawing some inspiration from Valve given how well the company’s Steam Deck, running their custom version of SteamOS 3, showcased what a completely optimized user experience looks like on a portable PC gaming device. Who knows, maybe Microsoft will release a full-featured Windows 11 UI for handheld gamers at some point, something like Steam’s Big Picture mode.