Close up of a green and yellow gaming laptop RGB keyboard
Justin Duino / How-To Geek

The problem with RGB lights on keyboards, mice, and other devices is that you usually need third-party apps to apply settings… which are almost always buggy or convoluted. Microsoft is trying to fix that with a new Windows 11 feature.

Twitter user Albacore spotted a new feature in Windows 11 that hasn’t been officially announced yet: a new “Lighting” section in the Settings app. It displays a list of connected devices that are detected to support some form of light controls, with a toggle to turn lights on and off. There are also settings for adjusting the brightness, light effect, effect speed, and color. Microsoft even added a toggle to match the lights to the current Windows accent color.

This is exciting news because most applications built for controlling RGB lights and other settings on PC accessories, like Razer Synapse or Logitech G Hub, are really bad. Many of them are slow, buggy, or take up system resources if you leave them running in the background. Razer’s software actually required you to create an online account just to configure settings, until the company finally changed course in 2019.

image of Windows settings app
Albacore / Twitter

The catch is that each accessory has to support this method of control, which appears to be using a USB specification that Microsoft developed in 2018. It’s not clear which devices support the required USB feature, or even which manufacturers would be interested in allowing the feature. Third-party controller software costs time and money for each manufacturer to maintain, but they can open the door to data collection, push notifications, or other functionality that is valuable to companies like Logitech and Razer.

It’s possible Microsoft could partner with manufacturers to make the feature more widely available, or maybe even support lights built into the computer — for example, RGB keyboards on gaming laptops. We’ll have to wait and see.

Source: Albacore (Twitter)

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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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