Xbox Controller Bar with an Xbox controller

Xbox controllers are some of the best PC gaming controllers, thanks to their plug-and-play support in Windows and most games. Microsoft is now testing a new ‘Controller bar’ on Windows 11, which aims to make the experience even better.

Windows 10 and 11 both have an Xbox Game Bar that can be opened with Win+G, or by pressing the Xbox button on an Xbox controller (the latter might require clicking a checkbox in the Windows Settings app). The Game Bar has quick shortcuts for creating screenshots and screen recordings, checking CPU and GPU usage, changing audio levels/outputs, and so on. However, you can’t open games from the Game Bar, which might be confusing for people used to pressing the Xbox button on an actual Xbox console (which takes you to the main menu with all your games).

image of Xbox Game Bar
Xbox Game Bar on Windows Microsoft

Microsoft is testing a new feature on Windows 11 called the Controller Bar, which appears when you press the Xbox button on an Xbox controller instead of the existing Game Bar (which remains accessible with Win+G). When you’re not playing a game, the bar will show a horizontal list of your recently-played games and game launchers. If you are playing a game and you press the Xbox button, it will bring up the usual Game Bar with the list of games collapsed to the left side.

The new Controller Bar seems like a great improvement for anyone looking to pick up an Xbox controller and start playing games right away, instead of reaching for a keyboard and mouse to open a game every single time first. However, the current version only shows up to three games and a few launchers.


If you want to try out the Controller Bar, you have to be on the latest Windows 11 Insider Preview Build (build 225xx) from the Dev and Beta channels, and sign up through the Xbox Insider Hub. The full instructions are in the source link below. Presumably, the bar will also work for gamepads that emulate an Xbox controller, but Microsoft didn’t confirm that in its blog post.

Source: Windows Blog

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Corbin Davenport is the News Editor at How-To Geek, an independent software developer, and a podcaster. He previously worked at Android Police, PC Gamer, and XDA Developers.
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