Microsoft has announced Xbox Compact Mode on Windows, which provides an enhanced user interface for portable gaming devices like the Asus ROG Ally, GPD Win 4, and Lenovo Legion Go. This represents significant advancements in the usability of Xbox apps to elevate the gaming experience for users of these devices.

With the rise in popularity of Windows-powered portable gaming devices, the Windows OS is not completely optimized for small screens, unlike Steam Deck’s UI and quality-of-life improvements.

What is Xbox App Compact Mode?

This brand-new feature was announced in November to improve the UI and gaming experience of handheld gaming devices. It gives a sidebar on the left side, and the icons also collapse, giving more content space for browsing content. Nevertheless, to expand the sidebar, you only need to click on an icon.

By providing a clutter-free and intuitive interface for more straightforward navigation, which is the main focus of Microsoft, by introducing the Xbox App’s Compact Mode. The layout perfectly aligns with the ergonomic screen size, giving more space and visibility to the main window.

Xbox App Compact Mode for Windows Portal Devices

The compact mode gives improved navigation, an optimized experience, enhanced readability, and more screen space for small-screen devices. The Xbox PC app also filters to show unread notifications, console notifications for Xbox Free Play Days for Gamers on Wish List, and Gaming Service Repair Tools for troubleshooting gaming services or missing content when launching the Xbox app on PC.

Not only this but there are improvements for Xbox consoles, like selectable Japanese keyboard layouts with options to switch between layouts. Firmware updates for controllers enable Shift Mode for keyboard mapping and fix previous update issues.

How to enable Xbox Compact Mode

This feature provides exceptional functionality so that users have a streamlined and user-friendly experience. The option is hidden, requiring access through a drop-down menu.

  • Open the Xbox app, then click on the profile picture in the upper-right corner.
  • From there, select Settings from the drop-down menu and click the General tab.
  • Next, toggle to enable compact mode.

The update aims to enhance the gaming experience based on user feedback by toggling the Compact Mode switch on their updated Windows device. The Xbox app’s compact mode is enabled by default due to a partnership between Microsoft and the device manufacturers to increase further interest in the gaming handheld market, including partnerships between Microsoft and the device manufacturers.

The strategy behind the Microsoft Xbox expansion, stated at the Wells Fargo TMT Summit, is that Xbox plans to bring its first-party titles and Game Pass subscription to every screen capable of playing games, indicating a strategic shift.

Xbox is not the only app that allows users to purchase and access games on Windows handhelds; other alternatives are Steam, Epic Games Stores, GOG, etc., for all Windows devices. In addition, Microsoft said it would further improve this by developing a Windows 11 UI for such devices.