Windows 11 has a new preview build which brings in a smart feature for people who like to use their Xbox controller to play games on the PC.
The new preview build 22616 (for the dev and beta channels) is mostly all about a bunch of minor changes and fixes, with one major addition that’s targeted at gamers in the form of a new controller bar.
Said controller bar provides a compact view of the Xbox Game Bar and allows you to easily access your most recently played games – the last three you’ve run are present on the bar – or indeed recently used launchers. So, if you want to fire up Steam again, for example, that ability is just a button press away.
The controller bar can be invoked by hitting the Xbox button on your controller, and testers will see it appear the first time they connect an Xbox controller to their Windows 11 PC (if they’re in the dev or beta channels running this latest build, of course – and you must also be running version 5.722.5022.0 or better of Xbox Game Bar; hop over to the Microsoft Store to check for updates).
If you’re playing a game and you press the Xbox button, this will bring up the Xbox Game Bar that you’re used to seeing in-game.
Microsoft has full instructions of how to get up and running with this controller bar in build 22616 if you’re stuck in any way.
Analysis: Get your feedback in – and check out the important fixes here, too
The new controller bar is in early preview, of course, so at this point anyone diving in with the feature can expect some bugginess. Indeed, Microsoft observes there are some games which may not show up in the recently played list of games – and you might see flaws where some titles appear twice – and as ever, feel free to report anything going awry in the Feedback Hub (under Gaming > Xbox Game Bar).
Suggestions for improvement will obviously be welcome, no doubt, and one we’ve already seen aired online is the potential addition of a low battery warning to the controller bar, to let you know when you’re in danger of running out of juice.
We also mentioned that build 22616 delivers a fair old dollop of fixes, and there are solutions for some annoying issues here, including a big shift with the system tray, with the changes brought in with build 22581 having been ditched. Microsoft says the system tray – and the ‘Show hidden icons’ flyout, which had gone missing for some testers – has been reverted to work as it did when Windows 11 first came out.
Some reports on Reddit (such as this one) seem to suggest that this new build also fixes a problematic error code some folks have been running up against, stopping them from installing fresh preview versions of Windows 11 – but there are also people saying this gremlin is still around.