Windows 11 Is Getting A New Xbox Controller Bar, Here’s What It Does


xbox controller bar

For years Microsoft has been trying to bring the Xbox console experience more into the PC market. It heavily emphasizes that its operating system is the best for games and gaming. Well, controller gamers on PC rejoice, because Microsoft has seen you and there is a new game bar for PC.

Currently in testing on Windows Insider Preview Build 22616, the new bar provides a useful and more rapid interface to using your controller to launch your games. That’s good news for anyone who uses a PC as though it were a console hooked up to a TV. It means you can go straight to launching your games from your controller, which is an added convenience.

windows 11 xbox overlay
Old Windows 11 Game Bar

This is also a bit of a far cry from what the original Xbox “Game Bar” was on Windows 11, which was just a bit of overlay features (though admittedly a bit useful at times). Some of those original features being social interactions, voice chats, and video and screen capture options, as well as some performance monitor functionality. You are not limited to using a controller either, as the Windows Key + G button will also provide you the view.

This new feature does seem like it’s a useful and handy edition for media-PC style owners. I have a desktop set up in my living room meant specifically for playing Forza with a controller. It does seem like it took Microsoft a long time to realize that this kind of interface would be useful on the PC though. Something like this has existed on Steam basically since the Steam Controller, and obviously it’s already been a staple of consoles for years. So why did it take so long for Redmond’s people to think that maybe, just maybe, some controller players might want to use their controllers to close and open their games?
windows key g gamebar
Press Windows Key + G to open Xbox Game Bar without a Controller

If you’re impatient and feel like you need the feature now, you will need to enroll in the Windows Insider program, set it to Beta, then enroll in the Xbox Insider Program and install the Xbox Insider App from Windows Store. After that, enroll in the Windows Gaming Preview from that App, then you’ll need to update the Xbox Game Bar and any other Xbox associated apps with both Windows Update and Windows Store, and restart. Honestly that’s a lot of work to just get a quick launcher for games with an Xbox controller, and for most users we recommend just waiting for the public release.

Along with this announcement Microsoft has stated that the current Beta and Dev builds for Windows Insiders are actually the same build numbers. That effectively means that the next insider preview is inching ever-closer to being a full on release. There are a whole host of features being added beyond just a more couch-friendly Xbox Bar for Controllers.



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