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Microsoft's 2022 New Year's resolution should be fixing the Xbox app on PC

Xbox Game Pass PC
Xbox Game Pass PC (Image credit: Matt Brown | Windows Central)

Microsoft's industry-dominating Xbox Game Pass service has given the Xbox platform a huge advantage over the past couple of years, drawing countless fans into the Xbox ecosystem with its gargantuan all-you-can-eat game buffet and an affordable monthly cost. As part of the company's effort to directly branch out into the PC gaming space, Microsoft has also launched PC Game Pass, a PC version of Game Pass that offers the same benefits for people that prefer to play games on Windows.

Unfortunately, unlike the Xbox Game Pass experience on console, the PC Game Pass experience was very disappointing for quite some time. PC Game Pass just wasn't good enough, as users were forced to deal with UWP app delivery issues that broke game installations, dependency on the slow, glitchy Windows 10 version of the Microsoft Store, an Xbox app that wasn't much better, and exceptionally poor mod support.

The arrival of Windows 11 fixed a lot of these problems, and Microsoft also made the wise decision to move everything to the Xbox app on PC instead of splitting the PC Game Pass experience between it and the Microsoft Store one. However, there's still one glaring flaw that Microsoft hasn't addressed: the quality of the Xbox app on PC.

Source: Windows Central Data in each tab of the Xbox App often takes a painfully long time to load. (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

In my experience, the biggest issue with the Xbox app is that it can often be incredibly slow and buggy to use. It's better than the Microsoft Store was in Windows 10, but it's still far from being in an acceptable state. Buttons for installing or updating my games often just don't work, forcing me to relaunch the app. Video game box art on the storefront sometimes won't load at all, making it impossible to see what games I'm looking at. I've even had the app not show me an option to update my games despite the developer releasing a patch, preventing me from accessing official bug fixes (this locks you out of playing multiplayer games completely).

These are just my issues though. Other users have reported issues like game libraries not displaying correctly, preloaded games not launching properly once they release, and the app hogging a significant amount of system resources. Overall, the state of the app is simply unacceptable.

The Xbox app is slow, unreliable, and lacks the utility that PC gamers have come to expect.

The app's organization filters also either don't make sense or work correctly. For example, why are there tags for "Xbox One X Enhanced" and "Optimized for Xbox Series X|S" games on PC? Why does the storefront only show me one game when I select the "120 FPS" tag, despite the fact that a large portion of the PC Game Pass library supports that framerate? Why doesn't "Cloud enabled" show me popular titles available through Xbox Cloud Gaming like Halo Infinite and Sea of Thieves? Compared to the reliable and accurate filters on Steam, the Xbox app's are awful.

Compared to other PC storefronts, the Xbox app is also lacking on the quality-of-life front. You can't organize your installed games into custom collections or move your game installations to a different folder or drive, and there's no way to see your playtime or check out what the latest patch notes for recent updates. The Social tab of the app is lacking, too, as it only shows you your friends list and recent posts made by friends without giving you a way to create and engage with groups and communities like you can on Xbox.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

At the end of the day, there's no getting around it: The Xbox app is slow, unreliable, and lacks the utility that PC gamers have come to expect. That's disappointing, as the potential of PC Game Pass is huge and shouldn't be held back by frustrating stability issues and absent features. There's no doubt in my mind that PC Game Pass would be significantly more popular than it is right now if the Xbox app user experience wasn't so flawed.

If Microsoft wants PC Game Pass and its overall push into the PC gaming space to grow and succeed like Xbox Game Pass did, it needs to address the Xbox app's numerous shortcomings in 2022 — sooner rather than later. It's crucial that Microsoft offers robust software that makes playing and engaging with the best PC games easy and frustration-free, and right now, the Xbox app just isn't cutting it.

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.

18 Comments
  • Like any digital store front for gaming on the PC, if it doesn't at least match what Steam offers, it's already a lost cause.
  • Tbf others are actually doing okay more surprisingly and some others really compete well with Steam, with the only exception that Steam just have a better overall amount of game libraries. GoG client is actually good. Most are just okay, but are necessary due to exclusivity with the games these days. Same goes with Xbox client which is just tolerable because gamers want games only exclusive to Xbox.
  • more like steam isn't s...playstation thats heavy with censorship all over the place, which would rip most of the content off a game piece by piece only to make both the creators and the consumers hate whats left in the aftermath, successfully destroying a possible franchise and leaving creators suicidal with their losses after all the efforts they've gone through to make it.
  • They should do something with some of those PC Game Pass releases. Some of those games are just console ports adjusted to PC or sometimes without some features. Or like The Ascent or CONTROL or other games which were (or maybe still are) not the same as on Steam.
  • I'm still amazed that you can't buy digital titles in the mobile app, it would be incredibly convenient.
  • Probably because Apple and Google would ask for their share.
  • Yup, it's this right here. Hoping the court case against Apple starts to change this.
  • You playing games on a potato? Be honest. I have None of these issues.
  • Oh, I'm happy to be honest. RTX 3070, 32GB RAM, i7-9700K, SSDs. You not having issues doesn't mean that other people don't.
  • Try Reinstalling windows
  • Considering mine, those are indeed some nice specs, but have you tried providing feedback about the store issues through the feedback hub? , it might not be much but feedback does help. not that I play any games through the store, least not at the moment, though I do prefer using store apps for other functions.
  • Gamepass app sucks compared to Steam.
    Xbox apps on Android / iOS sucks compared to those for PS5
    I can't believe talhat the biggest software company on the planet can't make a decent app for their services
  • I don't have any of these issues. The only thing that's annoying is EA Desktop itself when you're using it's app. I typically have way more problems with steam launcher than I ever do with the Xbox app. The Steam app is slow, just yesterday I bought a game, it it wouldn't launch from steam and I had troubleshoot on my own to fix, which I've done several times, never once on Xbox app, or Epic, though again the EA desktop app needs a ton work with itself and it's integration with the xbox app.
  • Totally agree that the pc app needs some serious work! Something akin to that of steam is needed. Id also love to see a Big Picture Mode incorporated that perhaps looks just like the Xbox UI when launched
  • I don't think Microsoft necessarily wants to compete with Steam on PC. If they did, they wouldn't bring their games to Steam. Personally, I'm glad Microsoft made the decision to bring their games directly to Steam because Steam already does a number of things that I like. It is the best platform for PC gaming and it stays out of my way when I don't need it. I'm happy that Microsoft understands this. With this said, I would like to see Microsoft continue to improve the Xbox app on PC. As an example, I recently connected my Xbox controller to my iPad because I wanted to play some games on it using the controller via Bluetooth. After pairing my controller, I decided to manually check the list of other Bluetooth devices (not a mandatory step) to see what else was paired to my iPad. To my surprise, there was an exclamation point indicating that my Xbox controller required a firmware update to resolve connectivity issues. I have NEVER received this prompt plugging my controller into my PC via USB in the past. I don't know if this is simply a case of iOS doing things better than Windows 11/10, but the little things like this are what keep me from relying on the Xbox app on PC as my daily driver. In all fairness, Steam doesn't prompt me to update my controller either. But, it would be great if Microsoft focused less attention on cramming GamePass down my throat at every possible turn, but instead focused on finding ways to make existing applications on PC more valuable. Even after I realized that I have to update my controller firmware, I was surprised that I couldn't do this directly using the Xbox app from the Microsoft Store. Rather, I had to download a second Xbox Accessories app from the Store which fortunately did recognize that a firmware update was available. Now, I can take my updated controller and re-connect it to my iPad via its flawless Bluetooth connectivity. I would love to see Microsoft do more to combine these separate apps into ONE app on PC. Give me ONE Xbox app that does it all, PC monitoring features, GamePass offerings, hardware detection and updates, etc. Until someone at Microsoft decides to take the lead on these quality of life improvements, all of the supposed "benefits" of Xbox on PC will continue to be lost on the general PC gaming public and discoverable only through individual internet searches on articles such as this.
  • Sounds like u need to fix your windows install or reinstall it all together. The problems that your having with loading isn't the apps problem it's your connection or your windows files are corrupted.
    Had the same issue a few months back but instead of writing an article blaming Microsoft for my problems I took a few days and dug into the issue. Found many problems within the installation of win10 that had become corrupt over time.
    Also reporting u can't move the games to other drives is misleading and pretty much a lie. Even wHEN the windows store WaS OnlY WAy To install the games u still could move them. PC gaming is a privilege and isn't for everyone , especially those not technically inclined. If u want easy gaming ho get a console, u want to game with the big boys go get some Mcse courses...
  • The Xbox app needs a ton of work for sure. I notice when I try to filter games that it doesn't even show all the games that meet the criteria I list. Also I find it really weird that the Xbox app lets you search for Xbox Play Anywhere titles but you can't search on the Xbox app by what platforms the games are supported on. Also the voice chat through the Xbox app is hot garbage. I just use Discord and you'd think having Xbox live voice chat integrated into the OS would be a slam dunk home run easy mode for MS but it is really terrible. I would use the Xbox messaging and voice chat a lot more if it just felt better.
  • I have similar specs like u 3060Ti I7-9700 16gb ram Win 11 and none of the problems u described are present on my app. I am even opening the app from "not supported" country and the load time is OK... I ditched Steam and other platforms because of the achievements so I am using this on daily basis.