The AYANEO Next Lite gaming handheld will no longer be a Steam Deck-alike, but Windows fans will be pleased

AYANEO Next Lite
(Image credit: AYANEO)

What you need to know

  • The AYANEO Next Lite originally caused a stir by revealing itself running 'SteamOS.' 
  • The tale took a turn when it turned out it wasn't some kind of partnership with Valve, it was instead using a community version, HoloISO, which drew criticism. 
  • Now, there's another twist, with the company announcing it has ditched Linux altogether for the Next Lite, which will now ship with Windows 11, instead. 

The AYANEO Next Lite gaming handheld sure is a curious device. It grabbed attention initially because when first revealed, it looked like it was running SteamOS. This has since turned out not to be the case, instead being based on the community version known as HoloISO. 

Folks who know Linux gaming a little weren't too thrilled about hearing this, as HoloISO doesn't have a great reputation for reliability. Nevertheless, a Windows driver was promised, and with an attractive starting price, it's still a tasty looking handheld. 

There is now another twist in the tale, though. As AYANEO has started to email the first of its email subscribers about placing pre-orders, HoloISO is no more. In a statement on X (via GamingOnLinux) it seems the Next Lite will now come shipped with Windows 11. 

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Now running Windows, but the price seems the same

AYANEO Next Lite

(Image credit: AYANEO)

According to AYANEO's post, the starting price will still be $299, despite the shift from using Linux, which is free, to Windows 11, which is not free. I'm obviously happy to see that, since the price was one of the biggest draws to the Next Lite. 

AYANEO may have switched to Windows 11, but it says it will still also have "officially adapted" HoloISO images available on its website. Personally, I'd still be tempted to try it, despite my reservations over HoloISO, because I just prefer the Steam Deck experience on a handheld over Windows 11. 

It's quite the turn of events, though. The AYANEO Next Lite may well be using an older AMD APU than the likes of the Steam Deck or the ROG Ally, but it could still be a solid little performer. And the rest of the spec sheet isn't bad at all. We're even more curious to get one of these in to check out for ourselves, now. 

Richard Devine
Managing Editor - Tech, Reviews

Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at mstdn.social/@richdevine