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Forward-looking: Quick Resume remains one of the Xbox's most significant advantages over PC gaming. Microsoft previously expressed the desire to bring the functionality to PC, but without any success thus far. Recent statements upon the launch of the Asus ROG Ally suggest the company hasn't given up and that PC gaming handhelds are pushing it to improve Windows.
Roanne Sones, Microsoft's head of Xbox devices, reiterated the company's resolve towards introducing features like Quick Resume to PC gaming at an event celebrating the full unveiling of the Asus ROG Ally – the Windows-based handheld ships on June 13 for $700. Microsoft previously explained why implementing Quick Resume on PC is much more complicated than on Xbox.
Modern Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo consoles let users suspend games while leaving the device in sleep mode or performing other tasks on the system before instantly resuming play without significantly impacting performance. The feature drastically cuts startup times. Moreover, Xbox Series consoles can simultaneously pause and quickly switch between multiple games, something the Switch and PS5 can't even do.
Although Microsoft has successfully migrated features like DirectStorage and Auto HDR to PC, Quick Resume is far trickier. However, the emergence of handheld Windows devices like the ROG Ally gives the company the impetus to continue the effort.
At an Asus event (video above), Sones said the new portable devices have changed how Microsoft thinks about the Windows user experience. She mentions Quick Resume specifically and the prospect of stopping a game on a desktop to immediately continue it on a handheld. Sones made similar comments at another ROG Ally panel late last month.
In an interview last year with Digital Trends, Xbox Series Lead Developer Jason Ronald explained in-depth how Quick Resume works and why bringing it to PC is so challenging. He said the feature silos each suspended game into something similar to a virtual machine and then saves the machine's state to the SSD.
Juggling virtual machines is relatively easy on Xbox because Microsoft fully controls its closed software ecosystem. However, how Steam and other PC game vendors package their software on Windows muddles how it can deal with those games. The sheer variety of PC hardware configurations is another hurdle that Microsoft has yet to solve.
April 13, 2023
Microsoft's ongoing struggle to bring Quick Resume to Windows is part of a push to improve the portable user experience. Implementing Windows lets the ROG Ally run a broader array of software than Valve's Steam Deck, but it wasn't designed for portable machines or small screens.
Some ROG Ally reviews note how clunky Windows feels in a tiny package, and Sones notes that Microsoft is aware of the problem – so rest assured devs are working on it. Another promising sign is a hackathon project from last year in which Microsoft employees tested a portable-optimized Windows user interface that would make launching games faster.
Whether or not these features ever appear, it's clear that Microsoft wants PC gaming handhelds to help it eventually make Game Pass on the go a reality.