What you need to know
- PC Game Pass on Windows is accessed via the aptly named "Xbox app."
- Unfortunately, the app isn't particularly great as of writing, but it is improving.
- Today, Microsoft began testing a significant change to its navigation, on top of an additional feature.
The PC Game Pass app for Windows 10 and 11 does the job, but it isn't great. For chat and social systems, it's much slower than competing services like Discord and Battle.net, while simultaneously offering fewer features. It also doesn't give you access to your console game clips or screenshots, while the old Windows 8-based previous Xbox Companion App still does. What the Xbox app makes up for in its usability areas is the PC Game Pass library , which is extensive in content, and big on value.
For those running the Xbox Insider app on Windows 10 or 11, the app got a fairly substantive update today, which not only updated navigation significantly but also added new features that measure game performance.
Sadly, as of writing, the app seems to lock up after just a few dozen seconds of use, but this is a beta version of the app and that will probably be fixed before it hits the general public.
The app's navigation now sits along the left side, along with installed games in the sidebar. I do personally think this looks a lot nicer and makes a lot more sense than its previous incarnation, but it's ultimately features and tools that the Xbox app is lacking right now.
The Xbox app is most frequently compared to Valve's mature Steam software, which you could argue is a bit unfair given Steam's age and lengthy dev cycle. Yet, they still compete to some degree. The Xbox app is far more restrictive than Steam when it comes to modding games and user-generated content access, and as mentioned, is generally far slower in important key areas. I often wonder if Microsoft will abandon this app if it manages to finish acquiring Activision Blizzard and throw its weight behind the speedier, more popular Battle.net app instead for PC Game Pass, but I suppose that's just speculative for now.
In any case, it's encouraging to see Microsoft continue to develop the Xbox corner of its Windows operation, and it'll be interesting to see where the Xbox app heads over the course of the year ahead. Hopefully, it'll be ready for prime time once Starfield launches later this year.
Netflix for PC games
While the app isn't particularly great, the games at least generally do work. With Game Pass you get access to hundreds of native PC titles, and with Game Pass Ultimate, you can even stream them from the cloud without needing to download them.
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Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!