Microsoft tweaks Xbox Game Bar in Windows 10 to make it actually useful

Xbox Game Bar
(Image credit: Microsoft)

It seems like Microsoft has quietly sneaked out an update to the Xbox Game bar app in Windows 10, adding a few tweaks and features that could make PC gamers actually want to use it, rather than ignoring it completely.

The Xbox Game Bar is a gaming overlay that you can open up by pressing Win + G on your keyboard, and is supposed to give you handy access to certain tools while playing, such as your Xbox friends list.

There are also tools for capturing your gameplay and livestreaming via the Mixer service (Microsoft's rival to Twitch). While it wasn’t as much of a failure as previous Microsoft attempts to get involved with PC gaming (many of us still have nightmares about Games for Windows Live), few people used it anyway, as it had a habit of getting in the way of your gaming, rather than helping you become more immersed.

However, as Italian site discovered, Microsoft released with little fanfare a new version - 5.320.5291.0 – which people can download from the Microsoft Store if they are running the Windows 10 May 2020 Update.

Welcome improvements

According to the changelog, which lists the new features and tweaks, the Xbox Game Bar now supports third-party widgets. These will be available though a new Widget Store. The ability to add new services that aren’t necessarily Microsoft’s own, will instantly make the Xbox Game Bar a more useful tool.

There are also new transparency options that mean the Xbox Game Bar doesn’t completely obscure your view of your game when opened (a common complaint about the app), and a new feature called ‘Click through’ that lets you leap straight back into your game, so whenever you click on the screen, you’re controlling the game, and the widgets won’t interfere. There’s a new way to quickly order your widgets on screen as well.

As we mentioned earlier, Xbox Game Bar isn’t particularly popular. At the time of writing, it only has 76 reviews in the Microsoft Store, none of which are glowing – it’s currently sitting at an average of two and a half stars out of five.

Microsoft clearly wants to show that it’s a brand to be trusted with when it comes to PC gaming, but so far, the Xbox Game Bar hasn’t helped endear the company to PC gamers. Could these changes make a difference? They certainly won’t hurt.

Matt Hanson
Managing Editor, Core Tech

Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Core Tech, looking after computing and mobile technology. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. Ever since he got an Amiga A500+ for Christmas in 1991, he's loved using (and playing on) computers, and will talk endlessly about how The Secret of Monkey Island is the best game ever made.