Windows 11: Microsoft introduces gaming-focused controller bar for Windows Insiders
Microsoft has introduced Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 22616 for machines enrolled on the Dev and Beta channels. Available to download now, Insider Preview Build 22616 makes a few changes from Build 22581, including several for the taskbar. However, this week's build coincides with the release of a new controller bar, for which Microsoft has released a dedicated press release.
Supposedly, the controller bar is at an 'early preview' stage, so it may not ship with public builds. Still, the controller bar is available to try on Windows 11 now, so long as you have enrolled your machine on the Dev or Beta channels of the Insider Preview programme. Also, the feature is not exclusive to Insider Preview Build 22616, despite being released alongside it. Instead, Microsoft states that your machine only needs to be on the latest Build 225xx branch, currently restricted to the Dev and Beta channels.
Billed as a new view of Xbox Game Bar, Microsoft hopes that the controller bar will give people a more 'controller-friendly access' to recently played games and game launchers. As with the Xbox Game Bar, you can bring up the controller bar by pressing the Xbox button on your controller, but only when you are not already in a game. Currently, pressing the Xbox button in-game will bring up the existing Xbox Game Bar. Microsoft outlines the way to try the new controller bar feature as follows:
- Be a Windows Insider running the latest Insider Preview Build (Build 225xx) from the Dev and Beta Channels.
- Download the Xbox Insider Hub from the Microsoft Store.
- Open the Xbox Insider Hub and sign-in with your Microsoft Account. If you are not already an Xbox Insider, it will ask you to join.
- After signing in, navigate to "Previews" and join the Windows Gaming preview.
- Check for updates in the Microsoft Store and make sure you have the latest version of Xbox Game Bar (Version 5.722.5022.0 or higher).
- Reboot your PC (this is important in order for the Game Bar update to kick in for controller bar).
- All you need to do next is pair or plug in your controller.
- Try the feature out and give feedback.