Microsoft is testing a new feature for Windows 11 that allows you to use a controller to launch recently played games without using a mouse and keyboard. The feature is called the ‘controller bar’ and can be accessed by pressing the central Xbox button on a controller when not in a game. It is designed to display up to three recently played games, in addition to a selection of game launchers such as Steam.
As someone whose gaming PC is permanently connected to their TV, I can see that the feature is very useful for people like me. Currently, even if I’m playing a controller-based game, I first have to use a wireless keyboard and trackpad to launch it from Windows. But in the future I may be able to skip this step and boot recent games using only a controller. Once you’re in a game, Microsoft says that pressing the Xbox button will launch the more in-depth Xbox game bar instead of the new controller bar.
Microsoft says the controller bar feature is currently being tested for Windows Insiders on its Dev and Beta channels, and warns that there may be bugs (such as some games not appearing or others appearing multiple times). Instructions on how to enable the new feature can be found in Microsoft’s blog post.