Windows 11 has a new preview build that brings a smart feature for people who like to use their Xbox controller to play games on PC.
New preview build 22616 (for dev and beta channels) is mostly a set of minor changes and fixes, with one major addition aimed at gamers in the form of a new controller bar.
This Controller Bar offers a compact view of the Xbox Game Bar and gives you easy access to your most recently played games – the last three you’ve run are present on the bar – or else recently used launchers. So if you want to relaunch Steam, for example, this ability is just a button press away.
The Controller Bar can be summoned 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 running this latest version, of course – and you also need to be running Xbox Game Bar version 5.722.5022.0 or higher; head to the Microsoft Store to check for updates).
If you’re playing a game and pressing the Xbox button, it will bring up the Xbox Game Bar that you’re used to seeing in-game.
Microsoft has full instructions on how to get up and running with this controller bar in build 22616 if you get stuck in any way.
Analysis: get your feedback – and also see important fixes here
The new controller bar is of course in preview, so at this point anyone diving with the feature can expect some bugs. Indeed, Microsoft observes that some games may not appear in the list of recently played games – and you may see glitches where certain titles appear twice – and as always, feel free to report anything wrong with the Feedback Hub (under Gaming > Xbox Game Bar).
Suggestions for improvement will obviously be welcome, no doubt, and the one we’ve already seen online is the potential addition of a low battery warning to the controller bar, to let you know when you might run out. of juice.
We also mentioned that build 22616 provides a good old dollop of fixes, and there are fixes for some annoying issues here, including a big change with the system tray, the changes made with build 22581 having been dropped . Microsoft says the system tray – and the “Show hidden icons” drop-down menu, which disappeared for some testers – have been restored to work as they did when Windows 11 was released.
Some reports on Reddit (like this one) seem to suggest that this new build also fixes a problematic error code that some people have been running into preventing them from installing new preview builds of Windows 11 – but there’s also people who say this gremlin is still there.