Let’s face it: Some PC gamers play with controllers, because some PC games just play better with controllers. And if you’re the type of person who reaches for a thumbstick rather than a mouse, Microsoft has a new Windows 11 Game Bar for controllers that you can help test.
Microsoft is making this new version of the Xbox Game Bar available to those who participate in the Windows Insider and the Xbox Insider channels, specifically the latest Insider Builds on the Dev and Beta Channels. You’ll need to download the Xbox Insider Hub from the Microsoft Store for PCs, sign in, then join the Xbox Insider program if you aren’t signed in already. You’ll also need to join the Windows Gaming preview.
After rebooting, you’ll see the new Game Bar for controllers the next time you attach your controller, Microsoft said in a blog post on Thursday.
What’s nice about the new Game Bar for controllers is that it facilitates getting you into the game, as well as controlling the game. Push the Xbox button on your controller at any point and the Game Bar will show launch buttons for the last three games you’ve played, as well as separate buttons for game launchers like Steam. Once you’ve actually opened a game, you can tap the Xbox button again to open the full-fledged Game Bar, with all of its functions.
Naturally, there’s no obligation to use the new Game Bar for controllers. We can’t imagine playing, say, a real-time strategy game using a controller. But something like one of the Batman: Arkham games or Elden Ring? There, a controller is the way to go, and the new controller Xbox Game Bar just recognizes it’s how those games are played.