Microsoft’s latest preview build of Windows 11 introduces a new “control bar” menu for quickly launching recently played Xbox games. Control Bar is the main feature update of Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 22616 for Dev and Beta channels for Windows Insiders, which also comes with lots of bug fixes.
The bar is a preview of a new Xbox Game Bar view that opens when users pair or connect an Xbox controller to a PC. The bar displays a row of icons for up to three games the user has recently played on a local device, as well as installed game launchers. The control bar can be displayed when not playing a game by pressing the Xbox button on the controller. If you’re already in a game, the Xbox buttons give you direct access to the Xbox Game Bar and standard game widgets.
To use this feature on a Windows 11 PC, users must have the corresponding preview build and have installed the Xbox Insider Hub from the Microsoft Store. Users should log into the Xbox Insider Hub and join the Insider Program, then navigate to “Previews” and join the Windows Gaming preview.
A strategic gaming dimension
Users should verify that they have Xbox Game Bar version 5.722.5022.0 or higher, then pair the controller or plug it in. Microsoft has also set up a Game Bar preview page on Reddit for testers to share feedback and bug reports with Microsoft. Gaming is an important part of Microsoft’s plans to increase the popularity of Windows 11.
Microsoft relies in particular on the built-in Xbox app, which provides easier access to Game Pass – a service that has not yet been widely adopted but could be bolstered by Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard for 68 .7 billion.
At the time of publication, Microsoft warned power users that the system tray would no longer support drag-and-drop to pin and unpin these items. It also introduced an optional setting to completely hide the “Show hidden icons” button, with the aim of simplifying the taskbar. But Insiders immediately complained that after installing it, they were unable to move system tray icons and they persisted after closing an app.
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