For PC gamers who use an Xbox controller, the Windows 11 update is fantastic

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The controller bar is an innovative new feature, although it is currently in beta.

image credits: pcmag

A new preview release of Windows 11 has a useful feature for folks who want to play PC games with their Xbox controller.

The latest preview version 22616 (for the dev and beta channels) mostly consists of a slew of minor tweaks and improvements, with one big addition aimed at gamers in the form of a new controller bar.

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The controller bar provides a smaller view of the Xbox Game Bar and lets you to quickly access your most recently played games (the last three you’ve played are displayed on the bar) or launchers. So, for example, if you want to restart Steam, you may do so with a single button press.

The controller bar can be accessed by pressing 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, of course, and you must also be running Xbox Game Bar version 5.722.5022.0 or higher; head over to the Microsoft Store to get it).

When you hit the Xbox button while playing a game, the Xbox Game Bar appears, which you’re used to seeing in-game.

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If you’re having trouble getting started with this controller bar, Microsoft has detailed instructions in build 22616.

Analysis: Submit your input – and make sure to look over the critical fixes as well

Of course, the new controller bar is still in early preview, so anyone trying it out now should expect some bugs. Indeed, Microsoft notes that some games may not appear in the recently played list of games – and that some titles may appear twice – and, as always, feel free to report any issues in the Feedback Hub (under Gaming > Xbox Game Bar).

Suggestions for improvement would undoubtedly be welcomed, and one that has already been discussed online is the inclusion of a low battery warning to the controller bar, which would alert you when you’re about to run out of charge.

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We also said that build 22616 contains a large number of fixes, and there are remedies for a number of nagging issues, including a major change to the system tray, with the changes introduced with build 22581 being removed. The system tray – and the ‘Show hidden icons’ flyout, which had gone missing for certain testers – has been restored to its previous state, according to Microsoft.

Some reports on Reddit (such as this one) imply that this new build also fixes a problematic error code that has been preventing customers from installing fresh trial versions of Windows 11 — but others claim that the bug is still present.

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