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Windows Insiders can now test new 'Xbox Controller Bar' for easier PC game access

Xbox Controller Bar Preview Image
Xbox Controller Bar Preview Image (Image credit: Microsoft)

What you need to know

  • The Xbox Game Bar is a built-in Windows feature that gives you quick access to a wide variety of widgets and tools while gaming.
  • On Thursday, Microsoft announced that testing has begun on a new feature for the Xbox Game Bar, the Controller Bar.
  • The Xbox Controller Bar gives you quick access to three recently played games and launchers when you're not playing a game.
  • It can be accessed at any point by pressing the "Xbox" button on a compatible controller, and can be tested by Windows Insiders now.

The Xbox Game Bar is a useful feature built into Windows that gives users access to numerous tools and widgets for monitoring game performance, accessing social features, capturing screenshots or game clips, and more. The tool has evolved significantly since its debut, and now it's preparing to gain another new feature for PC gamers: the Xbox Controller Bar.

Source: Microsoft (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

The Xbox Controller Bar is now available to test for users in both the Windows and Xbox Insider Program, and is very straightforward. Whenever an Xbox controller is connected to your PC and you're not playing a game, you can press the "Xbox" button on your controller to open a simplified menu with quick links to your last three played games and a handful of game launchers.

You'll be able to access this menu from anywhere in Windows, simplifying the process for starting up your favorite game, especially if you prefer to leave the mouse alone and continue using the controller. Whenever you're in a game, the "Xbox" button will bring up the full Xbox Game Bar and all of your widgets, as expected (pressing

Win

+

G

still works, as well).

In order to access the feature ahead of release, you'll need to be a Windows Insider in the latest Dev or Beta Channel update, and you'll need to be enrolled in the "Windows Gaming preview" from within the Xbox Insider Hub. You'll likely have to update the Xbox Game Bar from the Microsoft Store and reboot your PC for the feature to appear. While this is a simple addition to the Xbox Game Bar, it does make it a little easier to access your favorite PC games with a press of a button.

Zachary Boddy
News Writer, Minecraft Expert

Zachary Boddy is the Minecraft Expert and a News Writer for Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore. They have been gaming and writing for most of their life, and have been freelancing for Windows Central and its sister sites since 2019, with a focus on Xbox and PC gaming. You can find Zachary on Twitter @BoddyZachary.

4 Comments
  • Looks completely useless.
  • Actually, it isn't. Sometimes I actually have to launch the Xbox app to start a game because the start menu apparently can't find it. If I just start the controller this saves steps.
  • Slowing replacing the Windows UI with a simplified Xbox UI. I always thought they should make the Xbox UI available in Windows and have a way to switch between it and the Windows Start Menu / Task Bar. Kind of like tablet mode.
  • By the way, few days ago cool game launcher for Game Bar released - One Game Launcher.
    It brings console experience to the PC. No keyboard or mouse required to launch a game, just use your gamepad like with console.