Microsoft is testing Controller Bar, a new feature for the Xbox Game Bar for Windows. The feature allows quick access to games and game launchers that have been recently played or accessed.
The Xbox Game Bar has been an integral part of the Windows operating system for quite some time. It gives users access to tools and widgets that help in monitoring game performance, accessing social features, capturing screenshots or game clips, and performing many more gaming-related tasks. The feature has undergone several revisions since its introduction and could soon receive a new feature called Xbox Controller Bar. It is already available in the latest Windows 11 Insider Preview build 22618.
The Xbox Controller Bar is aimed specifically at PC Gamers who use the Xbox controller to play games on their computer. The feature is now available to both Windows and Xbox Insider Program participants. The Controller Bar is essentially tied with the Xbox button on the game controller and is supposed to simplify access to gaming-related functions.
To work, the feature will need an Xbox controller that’s already paired with the Windows PC. Whenever a Windows PC user is not playing a game, and they press the "Xbox" button on the paired controller, a new simplified menu with quick links to the last three played games as well as a handful of game launchers will pop up.
Gamers will be able to access this menu from anywhere in Windows. In other words, the Xbox Controller Bar will be activated whenever the Xbox button is pressed. It appears the feature will place itself on top of any active window. Microsoft claims this will simplify the process of starting up users’ favorite game, especially if they prefer to forgo the mouse in favor of the dedicated and gaming-optimized Xbox controller.
If a user is playing a game, the Xbox button will bring up the full Xbox Game Bar. This obviously gives access to all the installed widgets. Alternatively, gamers can also press Win+G to access the Xbox Game Bar experience.
As mentioned above, the Xbox Controller Bar is currently available only to Windows Insiders in combination with the Xbox Insider Hub app. Those interested in accessing the feature before it is available in the stable release channel will also need to be enrolled in the "Windows Gaming preview" from within the Xbox Insider Hub.