Xbox Half handheld gaming console has retractable side panels to hide away buttons and joystick

If recent leaks by trusted tipsters like Jez Corden (Windows Central Managing Editor) are to be believed, then we should see an Xbox handheld gaming console launch in 2026. Insiders have already hinted that the handheld prototype is already in the development stage and Microsoft plans to reveal some details next year or even earlier.

Interestingly, Microsoft recently sent out a survey about the current usage of handheld gaming devices and whether interested candidates are willing to buy one in the next five years. Also, the survey was keen on knowing whether candidates would prefer the ability to stream games via Xbox Game Pass. So, are we finally looking at a Microsoft handheld gaming device that could dethrone Nintendo Switch, Asus ROG Ally, Lenovo Legion Go and Steam Deck from the top spots in market share?

Designer: Banseok Seo

Investing years of R&D in developing gaming consoles is a winning formula for Xbox, Sony and even Nintendo. This applies to handhelds too as manufacturers release gaming devices only after a gap of a couple of years or even more. This concept for an Xbox handheld has a great form factor that Microsoft would be keenly observing for its form factor and functionality. Called the Xbox Half, this portable gaming device stands out from the rest when it comes to ergonomics and function. Just like the PSP, this one is good for gaming, consuming multimedia content, and listening to music.

With a retracting beacon of joystick and buttons on both sides, in full-width configuration, the gadget measures 11.30 inches for gaming and a compact mode that conceals them for an 8-inch form factor. This makes the Xbox handheld comfortable and convenient to use. The back panel keeps the brand identity alive as you pull the beacons out the X logo appears. Pretty cool isn’t it? To give distinction to the handheld from the Xbox game console, the buttons and joystick have a muted color hue in black.

Other input buttons including the power button, brightness controller, volume buttons, and the USB Type-C connector and the game slot card lie on the front and rear sides. A lot of thought has been put into conceptualizing the Xbox Half and we are looking forward to seeing what the real thing will look like when finally revealed.

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Microsoft Surface Pro 10, Surface Laptop 6 new hardware in old designs

The software company best known for the Windows operating system and the Office productivity suite hasn’t had the best of luck when it comes to hardware. Aside from the Xbox console, which is practically a separate business, most of Microsoft’s hardware products have either ended in failure or were short-lived. The Zune media player and Windows Phone devices quickly come to mind, and the dual-screen Surface Duo phone is just the most recent example. That’s why it’s almost a bit of a miracle that its Surface brand is still going, though it isn’t free from speculations about its pending doom. After more than a year and a half, Microsoft is finally updating its 2-in-1 tablet and traditional laptop devices, but both have one big reason they might not achieve much fame or adoption.

Designer: Microsoft

It’s arguable that the Microsoft Surface Pro popularized the 2-in-1 laptop design, especially one with a built-in kickstand and a cover that functions as a keyboard. Although the first ARM-based non-Pro Surface tablet flopped for other reasons, it seemed that Microsoft hit a gold mine with the Surface Pro to the point that it created a whole product line around the Surface brand. That family now includes an all-in-one Surface Studio desktop, a traditional Surface Laptop, and a Surface Studio Laptop that’s like a cross of those two.

Perhaps due to that success, Microsoft is a bit wary of changing the formula too much, especially when it comes to design. It was only recently that the Surface Pro shed off its thick bezels, but little has changed since then. In fact, the new Surface Pro 10 and Surface Laptop 6 would be dead ringers for their 2022 predecessors. Yes, there are upgrades, thankfully, but the majority can be found inside, like the new Intel Core Ultra processors that equip the portable computers with AI capabilities.

There are some notable improvements in other areas as well, particularly when it comes to accessibility and sustainability. The Microsoft Surface Type Cover, for example, now uses bolder fonts and brighter backlight to make keys easier to see and reduce eye strain. Microsoft also boasts that these two new devices contain the most recycled content it has ever included in its computers, a minimum of 25.8% recycled content for the Surface Laptop 6 enclosure and a minimum of 72% of the same for the Surface Pro 10.

But that lack of notable design changes isn’t what stops these two new products from becoming Microsoft’s big stars. These will only be available to business and commercial customers, which means most people won’t be able to buy them off shelves. Granted, the commercial segment might be more consistent in its buying capacity, but that still leaves out a huge chunk of potential sales. Rumor has it that Microsoft is planning a consumer Surface computer that’s powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chip, the same kind of processor that runs on powerful smartphones. But considering its luck with Windows running on that platform, it remains to be seen if it will finally be able to shake off that curse.

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Touchscreen iMac like the Microsoft Surface Studio hinted by Apple patent

Apple products have always been hailed by designers, and its computers have long been the tool of choice for many digital content creators, especially graphic artists. None of those computers, however, have ever sported a touchscreen, even one that supports the Apple Pencil, an irony that isn’t lost on many digital artists. This means they have to settle for external drawing tools or, for some more daring users, mods that combine MacBook internal with a drawing tablet. A Mac that can instantly be used as a digital canvas is definitely going to be an artist’s dream, and based on a patent that Apple has filed, that dream could still become a reality, and it already has the perfect design for that.

Designer: Apple

Apple M3 iMac

Apple might have plenty of reasons not to put touch screens on iMacs and MacBooks, but those reasons are starting to drop one by one. It might not want to muddle the lines that separate its Macs and iPads, for example, but you can already run touch-based iOS apps on Macs for years now. And it’s not like it’s lacking the technology to make it all possible, as proven by the highly successful iPad Pro and Apple Pencil.

A patent unearthed by Patently Apple reveals that the company has indeed, been toying around with that idea, though it’s not exactly surprising given how many ideas tech companies patent all the time. Admittedly, the patent’s focus is less on the touch screen itself but more on the stand and hinge mechanism that would let you tilt and even pull the whole iMac down to the desk’s surface, making it more comfortable for artists to draw on. It’s an instant display tablet without having to buy an expensive Wacom or switch to a different technology from the one you might already be familiar with.

As weird as that idea might sound, it has actually already been done before and with surprising success. The Microsoft Surface Studio pictured at the top is one of the company’s unexpected hardware champions, quickly endearing itself to content creators. It is almost exactly what Apple’s patent describes, an all-in-one computer with a stand and hinge that lets you tilt and turn it whichever way you need to, and it comes with a touch screen, too!

Microsoft Surface Studio

It’s not hard to imagine how such a feature could be a game changer for artists on Macs, making their workflows more seamless. Of course, it’s far too premature to get excited over this patent, because tech companies also have a tendency not to implement even a fraction of the patents they hold. And given Microsoft already has an implementation of this design, it might still come down to a legal battle if Apple does decide to push through with a touchscreen iMac since it filed the patent years before the Surface Studio came out.

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Microsoft Mesh lets you hold virtual meetings around virtual bonfires

The hype around the so-called Metaverse seems to have died down a bit. Even Facebook, which changed its name to Meta to emphasize its new mission, has been rather silent on that front, especially in light of AI being the hottest thing in tech these days. With the launch of the Apple Vision Pro, however, interest in mixed reality, as well as AR and VR, is once again on the rise. As such, now seems to be the best time for Microsoft to also make widely available its own virtual meeting platform, Microsoft Mesh, encouraging a new approach to hybrid work arrangements that will have attendees “sitting” around digital bonfires or posh virtual rooms, all for the sake of trying to make people feel more connected even when they’re all just sitting in their own homes.

Designer: Microsoft

In order to shake off the image of something only for games and entertainment, platform developers like Meta and Microsoft try to make mixed reality technologies something that’s actually useful for serious business as well. These usually involve providing virtual spaces for meetings, creating avatars that represent employees, and holding more interactive and livelier gatherings that would otherwise be a boring experience of watching people’s faces in a grid of boxes. In other words, they try to recreate the feelings and emotions of meeting in person when they physically can’t.

Microsoft Mesh is Redmond’s solution to this problem. Think of it like a VR Microsoft Teams and is, in fact, integrated into Microsoft’s collaboration platform. With just a few clicks, you can turn a flat, literally and figuratively, meeting into a 3D virtual experience, complete with bars, chairs, fires, and, of course, a screen inside a screen for showing presentations to your team. You’ll have to create your own personalized avatar, preferably something close to your real-world appearance, and you can decorate your spaces the way you want, including company logos, of course.

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Microsoft is leaning heavily on its no-code tools to make Mesh more enticing, in addition to having it tied to Microsoft Teams in the first place. Designing the area is a simple process of dragging and dropping assets as you would in a 3D game editor, thanks to a collaboration with Unity 3D. But if that is already too complex, Microsoft Co-Pilot offers an easier method that utilizes AI to translate your prompts into captivating virtual interiors, or at least the semblance of one. Whether it’s just a simple stand-up meeting that needs everyone to be on their toes, a brainstorming session that requires a bit more creativity, or a presentation that needs to keep people attentive, a virtual meeting space is probably going to help spice things up a bit.

Mesh comes at an interesting time when businesses are actually pushing for their workers to return to the office completely. For many companies, however, hybrid has become an unavoidable and permanent reality, with both the benefits and drawbacks it carries, particularly when it comes to the indirect interaction between humans. Microsoft Mesh is being positioned as the next best thing to support those social connections even when actual physical cues are absent. It’s now being made available for Windows PCs, but those who want a more immersive and convincing experience can enjoy it using their Meta Quest headset. That said, you’ll need a Microsoft subscription as well, so it’s not exactly something that everyone can experience.

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Xbox Series S toaster is now a real thing that can toast your bread

You probably know a gamer or two (or more) who live and breathe playing games on their console of choice, to the point that they tend to skip things like talking to other people and even eating. There are also probably gamers who see their game graphics everywhere, even on their food. Well, this can happen literally now, at least for Xbox fans as you can now imprint the logo on your bread.

Designer: Microsoft

The Xbox Series S toaster is now available to make all your Xbox toast dreams come true. It may seem like a joke item but it’s a real product that you can buy at Walmart and you can use as you toast your loaf bread, waffle, bagel, or whatever else piece of bread that you want to have the Xbox logo on before you actually eat and consume it. It doesn’t serve any other purpose except to put that logo on your bread and for Microsoft to have that image of having fun at their own expense.

This is actually born out of the memes that populated social media sites when the Xbox Series S first came out, comparing it with, you guessed it, a toaster. It has a digital countdown timer and you can even choose the shade setting for the xbox logo to be imprinted on your bread. The design of the toaster itself is similar to the Xbox Series S so you might have to be careful or you could start playing games in your kitchen or you might put a piece of bread into your actual Xbox.

This isn’t the first time they created an actual appliance based on people making fun of their console designs. The Xbox Series X mini fridge came out previously and we wouldn’t be surprised if they will eventually lean into this and create other kitchen appliances with the Xbox branding like a microwave, cutlery, plates, and even other products not related to the kitchen or eating. But for now, enjoy having the Xbox logo on your toast as you play games while eating.

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Microsoft Windows Ugly Sweater arrives in time to bring holiday jeer

The Christmas season is often associated with staying warm (if you’re living in the northern hemisphere) and having fun, and there’s a rather recent tradition that combines those with tongue-in-cheek humor. Ugly sweaters are exactly what their names imply, intentionally designed to be ridiculously laughable so that there’s really no room for misinterpretation. Making a pun on being a “soft wear” company, Microsoft has been releasing such unfashionable wearables for half a decade now, poking good-natured fun at its own products. This year’s design is an ode to the early 2000s, bringing back fond and not-so-fond memories of one of the longest-lived Windows versions of all: Windows XP.

Designer: Microsoft

Parts of the Windows XP design have perhaps forever been engraved in people’s memories, at least for those old enough to be using computers by 2001 onward. The candy-like “Luna” theme, the familiar login sound, and, of course, the iconic wallpaper that’s actually a photo of a landscape in Sonoma County, California. It’s this wallpaper, named “Bliss,” that Microsoft is bringing in somewhat low-res quality to this year’s Ugly Sweater, taking wearers and onlookers for a trip down memory lane, whether they like to or not.

Bliss is simple yet captivating, basically a picture of a green hill against the backdrop of a blue sky and white clouds. As its name suggests, it evokes a sense of serenity and calm, which is hardly the emotions you’d associate with using Windows XP, especially when the dreaded BSOD or Blue Screen of Death rears its ugly head. Nonetheless, it’s a powerful and admittedly warm image, just the perfect match for a warm piece of clothing.

That is, of course, if you’d be fine wearing what is practically the Windows XP wallpaper, letting everyone see your loyalty to the operating system or to the company. It’s not a perfect recreation of the wallpaper, though, and is more pixelated than what you’d see on a screen. It’s almost as if someone booted the sweater in Safe Mode, and there’s probably some underlying message there that we missed. And yes, there’s a very large mouse cursor there, fortunately pointing nowhere embarrassing.

This year’s Windows Ugly Sweater does have some hidden beauty, at least in how it is trying hard to save the environment. Specifically, Microsoft has partnered with The Nature Conservancy for this project, though exact details haven’t been laid out. At least you’ll be feeling a little good about yourself every time you intentionally put a large target on your back by wearing such an incredibly comical sweater this holiday season.

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Microsoft Xbox just released an Official Limited Edition wristwatch for $80

I’m pretty sure there’s some sort of overlap between the gaming community and the watch-lover community. How else would you explain Tag Heuer collaborating with Mario Kart, or Anicorn partnering with Hideo Kojima over this 2022 Metal Gear timepiece… or even the fact that Casio has a League of Legends edition of their G-Shock collection. The collabs don’t stop there because Microsoft just teamed up with Meister Watches to debut an Xbox-themed limited-edition timepiece. The exclusive watch, limited to just 250 units, comes with a gorgeous Stormtrooper color aesthetic, and the Xbox logo emblazoned across the watch’s face, making the collaboration pretty evident.

Designer: Microsoft Xbox & Meister Watches

Dubbed rather simply the XBOX watch, the timepiece comes in a colorway Meister calls “Crystal White”, as an homage to the limited edition transparent plastic ‘Crystal’ Xbox consoles back in the day. Aside from the massive Xbox logo on the dial as well as the crown, the watch sports topographical details on the face as well as the strap, a flair from Meister’s end that tries to bring about visual depth to the timepiece. That is, if you exclude that chunky outer body.

At the core of this watch lies a reliable Japanese 3-hand quartz movement, ensuring accuracy and longevity. The movement also supports features like the watch’s day and date functions, visible through the day and date windows at 3 and 12 o’clock respectively. You’ve even got water resistance of up to 50 meters, which, coupled with that rubber/silicone strap, means you can easily take a dip in a pool or go surfing without worrying about the water affecting your watch. Luminous markings on the hands allow you to read time at night or even under the water, although don’t expect this to serve as a dive watch.

The limited edition watch is already sold out as of writing this piece, but if you were one of the lucky ones to snag this up, it cost a mere $80, making for a pretty nifty keepsake. To add to that, the watch also shipped in a collector’s box that resembles a miniature Xbox Series S, adding to its appeal as a piece of gaming memorabilia.

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Microsoft’s Project Silica glass storage system looks right out of sci-fi

Storing massive amounts of data in the modern world is a lot more complicated and expensive than it would seem, given the persistence of the internet, which now dates back almost 40 years. Hard disk drives are relatively easy to break due to regular usage, and they only last an average of five years before becoming inoperable – making the information stored within disappear forever. Keeping the internet alive over the years requires a ton of electricity, and not just in terms of manufacturing and shipping new storage drives. Simply operating the massive arrays of computers where data is stored creates a tremendous carbon footprint, contributing significantly to climate destruction.

Microsoft’s Project Silica wants to solve one piece of that puzzle: data archival. The team behind Project Silica has been busy figuring out how to archive impressive quantities of data away in a physical vault that requires minimal amounts of electricity to maintain. In the automated vault, shelves of individual glass sheets storing up to 7 terabytes each (that’s over 1.75 million songs, according to Microsoft) are accessible by robotic servos that can track down a given sheet, then bring it back to a physical reader that transmits the data inside over the cloud. The only catch: once data is written to a glass sheet, that sheet can never be written over again.

Designer: Microsoft

An “ultrafast femtosecond laser” modifies the shape of the glass plates as it writes, storing information in voxels – 3D pixels that can store volumetric information. These voxels are encoded into the body of the glass, and can only be read with a quick-moving microscope that works similarly to a CD or DVD reader albeit at a much larger scale. Somewhere between those two interactions, robotic servos shuffle up and down steel rows, storing data away on shelves that look straight out of the Minority Report.

The entire four-step process is powered by Microsoft Azure AI, which makes sense given how complex it must be to make a foolproof automated system integrating digital and physical interactions, which is exactly what’s going on inside of the Project Silica library. Its robotic servos “climb the shelves, fetch the glass, and then zip back to the reader” before stopping to self-charge.

Each glass slab is designed to last for 10,000 years, which is evidently twice as long as it’s been since humanity’s oldest recorded writing was created about 5000 years ago. Even more shockingly, the entire library is “passive, with no electricity in any of the storage units” according to Microsoft.

Elire is already collaborating with Project Silica to store music in the Global Music Vault, but the technology isn’t quite ready for widespread use. Microsoft says there are about “3-4 more developmental stages” before these glass-based libraries become the norm for long-term data storage on a commercial level, but the benefits are clear. Project Silica could represent a massive step forward in minimizing humanity’s carbon footprint while ensuring its achievements live on through the ages.

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Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2 could be the beginning of the end for the hardware brand

Microsoft hasn’t had a lot of good fortune when it comes to its own hardware, at least outside of the Xbox consoles. Its first attempt at an iPod killer turned the Zune into a laughing stock, and its efforts to create its own mobile platform as well as adopt Android both ended up as market failures. Surprisingly, it struck gold with the Surface, particularly the Surface Pro line of 2-in-1 detachable tablet PCs that challenged the iPad and offered an even more versatile working experience on the go. That gave birth to a family of products ranging from computers to accessories and some hope that Microsoft has finally succeeded after all those years. Last week even saw the announcement of a new Surface Laptop Studio 2, but reception has been a little bit lukewarm and even doubtful of the future of these portable computers.

Designer: Microsoft

It’s not that the new Surface Laptop Studio 2 is terrible, just that it comes two years after the very first model. The Surface Laptop Studio definitely turned heads with its unique design in how it combined laptop and tablet forms in a way no other manufacturer has done before. It’s still a single piece of hardware, unlike the detachable Surface Pro, but part of its display detaches from the back and can be tilted at different angles, transforming the computer into a tablet or entertainment center. It practically combines the Surface Laptop and the larger Surface Studio to create a portable creativity powerhouse like no other.

The Surface Laptop Studio 2 upgrades that design from the inside, with newer options when it comes to specs. There are also some changes from the outside, like the addition of a full-sized USB-A port and a microSD card slot, but the overall form remains the same. It’s more of an incremental step forward, which might sound a bit disappointing considering how much time has passed between the two generations.

What has some Microsoft fans more concerned, however, is what the company wasn’t saying or showing during that event. The Surface Pro 10 was nowhere to be seen, which was strange considering it is the poster child for the brand. Even the smallest Surface got an upgrade, though the Surface Go 4’s middling specs and business-oriented rhetoric might make it less interesting for consumers. The Surface Laptop Go also arrives with a third-gen model, though this is also the less powerful version of Microsoft’s self-branded laptop.

Instead, Microsoft’s event seemed to focus more on its AI-powered Office features, which isn’t surprising considering how it’s a very hot topic and how Microsoft has invested heavily in this technology. But along with the departure of Panos Panay, considered to be the face of Microsoft Surface, there have been murmurs and doomsayings about the future of this product line. After all, the design of the Surface devices hasn’t change that much over the years, and, save for the Surface Laptop Studio, hasn’t seen much innovation either. It remains to be seen if Microsoft has lost its touch and, just like its previous hardware products, put the Surface to pasture soon.

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Microsoft’s AI Powered Backpack Redefines Your Smart Companion On the Go

In a world where our trusty smartphones have evolved into pocket-sized powerhouses, it’s natural to wonder if our everyday backpacks could use a tech-savvy upgrade. Well, wonder no more, because Microsoft has just unveiled an ingenious wearable that promises to revolutionize the way we perceive and interact with our surroundings.

Designer: Microsoft

Imagine this: a smart backpack, not just any backpack, but one powered by the remarkable capabilities of artificial intelligence (AI). It’s not science fiction; it’s a reality that has recently received the green light from the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Let’s delve into the exciting world of this innovative invention and see what all the buzz is about.

At its core, Microsoft’s smart backpack acts as your extra set of eyes. It’s equipped with the remarkable ability to identify objects in your immediate surroundings. Picture walking down a bustling street, and your backpack can provide you with real-time information about your environment – it’s like having your personal guide right there with you.

 

yanko design images to size – Microsoft_AI_backpack_03

Beyond object recognition, this intelligent companion can handle tasks for you. Need to set a reminder? Just ask your backpack. Want to add an event to your calendar? Your backpack is on it. It can even assist you in determining the price of an item at the grocery store. Think of it as your reliable sidekick, always ready to assist you on your adventures.

Thanks to its cloud connectivity, this smart backpack is a veritable treasure trove of information. It can fetch data from the internet in the blink of an eye, keeping you informed and up-to-date, no matter where you find yourself. Imagine having Google’s vast knowledge right at your disposal, all from the convenience of your backpack. The phrase “Are you stupid?” is on the verge of extinction! But of course, AI does not aid with common sense yet, right?!

Coming back, the magic doesn’t stop there. This backpack effortlessly syncs with your other tech gadgets, creating a harmonious tech ecosystem that simplifies your life. It’s like having all your devices working together seamlessly, sharing information and enhancing your daily experiences.

Beyond convenience, this backpack could be a game-changer for the visually impaired. With its built-in camera, microphone, speaker, network connection, processor, and storage space, it becomes an invaluable tool, offering crucial information and assistance in navigating the world.

While the potential applications of this smart backpack are vast, there’s a critical aspect that must not be overlooked: ergonomics. Designing the backpack to be ergonomic is key to making it a staple in our daily lives. Just think back to the early days of computing when computers were massive and cumbersome. Now we have lightweight laptops like the Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2 and MacBook Air. Similarly, ensuring that this smart backpack is easy to carry and lightweight would make it accessible to people of all ages and strengths, much like a smartphone.

Furthermore, this innovative backpack could be a lifeline for the elderly, helping them navigate the modern tech world without feeling left out. Its intuitive design and AI-powered features could bridge the gap between generations and empower individuals to stay connected and informed.

While the release date and availability of this futuristic backpack remain a mystery, there’s no denying that it represents a significant leap forward in wearable technology. In a world where technology continues to reshape our lives, this AI-powered backpack could be the next big thing, seamlessly integrating digital intelligence into our daily experiences. So, stay tuned for updates, because the future of backpacks might just be smarter than we ever imagined, and it could change the way we all interact with the world around us.

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