Windows 11 Insider adds controller-operated game bar
Microsoft's alternative to Steam Big Picture?By Daniel Sims 14 comments
Why it matters: This week, Microsoft introduced a new feature for the Xbox Game Bar in Windows 11 designed for controllers. For the first time, Microsoft is providing a way to start games from the Windows desktop without a mouse or keyboard.
The controller bar comes to Windows 11 insiders today. It's a new version of the Xbox Game Bar that opens after pressing the home button on an Xbox controller while not in a game. Now, users can start their three most recently-played games or boot up game launchers like Steam and the Epic Games Store. The normal Xbox Game Bar will still appear after pressing the home button in a game.
To run the new feature on Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 225xx or later, download the Xbox Insider Hub from the Microsoft Store. Sign up as an Xbox Insider in the hub, head to "previews," and then join the Windows Gaming preview. Afterward, update the Xbox Game Bar to version 5.722.5022.0 or newer, reboot, and connect an Xbox controller or other Xinput controller.
The controller bar will come in handy for users with home theater PC setups that don't comfortably accommodate keyboards and mouses. Until now, Steam's Big Picture mode has been the only way for PC gamers to navigate from the desktop into a game using just a controller. Booting non-Steam games this way requires manually adding them to a Steam library.