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New Windows 11 Insider preview adds a key Xbox feature

Published May 8th, 2022 2:08PM EDT
Windows 11 Xbox controller bar
Image: Microsoft

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The latest Windows Insider build is adding a Windows 11 Xbox controller bar. The new Windows 11 Insider build is available for Dev and Beta channel Insiders right now.

Windows 11 gets an Xbox controller bar in the latest Insider build

Windows 11 Xbox controller bar
The Xbox game bar will still look like it always has when using the controller to access it while in-game. Image source: Microsoft

The new feature is available as part of Windows Insider Preview Build 22616. On top of adding the Windows 11 Xbox controller bar, it also brings a slew of other fixes that I’ll talk about in a moment. The controller bar is definitely one of the most notable changes with this update, though.

The Windows 11 Xbox controller bar can be accessed at any point by plugging a controller into your PC and then tapping the Xbox button on your controller. At this point, the bar will appear, showcasing your most recently played games, as well as installed game launchers like EA Access, Steam, and the Xbox app. The bar looks a lot like the traditional Xbox game bar that has been available on Windows for some time now.

This update is yet another way for Microsoft to help differentiate Windows 11 from Windows 10. It’s also a good way to possibly pull in more gamers to the new operating system by offering new features designed for them.

With Windows 10 set to retire in 2025, Microsoft has to find some way to make Windows 11 stand out and get people to upgrade from Windows 10. The Xbox controller bar could help, at least as far as gamers are concerned.

This new Xbox controller bar isn’t a bad idea, and it’s a great way to make it easier for users to access their latest games from the desktop.

Other changes in the new Windows Insider build

Microsoft Defender on Windows 11Image source: Microsoft

But, as I mentioned above, the new Windows 11 Xbox controller bar isn’t the only new addition that we’re seeing with this build. There are also some changes to the taskbar. Most notably, Microsoft has reversed changes it made to the “show hidden icons” flyout.

These changes were introduced in build 22581. Microsoft is reversing them based on Insider feedback.

There are also some fixes to the performance and reliability of explorer.exe. Microsoft notes that the performance of the system used to degrade over time, resulting in a bug check. Now though, the issue should be resolved. You can check out a full list of the changes with this build on the Windows blog.

Having a dedicated Windows 11 Xbox controller bar will be a nice feature for gamers. Especially those who spend a lot of time playing games on their PCs. The feature is only available in the latest Insider build, though. Microsoft has yet to share a full release date for it.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.

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