The new Xbox Game Bar adds a fresh layer to gaming on Windows 10

Xbox Game Bar Windows 10
Image Credit: Microsoft (Image credit: Microsoft)

The Xbox features in Windows 10 have been fairly simple, with quick tools for capturing game footage and sharing it. That's changing today, just after the launch of the Windows 10 May 2019 Update

Now, the Xbox Game Bar includes extra overlay options for social features, audio, Spotify and more. Microsoft presented the details in an Inside Xbox announcement.

Before, pressing "Windows Key + G" while gaming would open up a simple overlay with tools to begin recording, capture screenshots, broadcast to Mixer and other tools related to capturing your gameplay. While those tools are still present in the new Xbox Game Bar, you'll now be able to pull up other players' streams while you game. And, those features have got a lot more company to make the Game Bar increasingly useful.

The audio tool will serve as a volume mixer so you can balance the audio coming through different apps. The Xbox Social and Xbox Chat tools will let you easily connect with and chat with your Xbox friends. And, a Looking for Group feature can help you find other gamers to play with.

Microsoft has also integrated Spotify into the Game Bar, so you can control streaming music playback in the overlay. And, finally, no gaming overlay is complete without a system performance monitor to see how your CPU, GPU and other parts are working while you game.

A crowded field

The Xbox Game Bar's new features may be on point, but they're entering a space that already has competition. Steam has its own overlay, as does Ubisoft's uPlay and EA's Origin. The popular voice chat app Discord also has an in-game overlay.

And, for capturing features, Nvidia's GeForce Experience is readily accessible on computers with recent Nvidia graphics cards.

Microsoft may have one key advantage, though. While the other overlays require the specific software to be running in order to use them (or hardware and software in the case of GeForce Experience), the Xbox Game Bar comes at the OS level.

Any computer running Windows 10 will have the Xbox Game Bar available across almost any game. It should work with games from Steam, Origin, uPlay and more.

That ubiquity could be a strong point in favor of the Xbox Game Bar, but limitations like streaming via Mixer only could hold it back for now. We'll have to see if Microsoft has even more in store for the tool at E3 2019.

Via The Verge

Mark Knapp

Over the last several years, Mark has been tasked as a writer, an editor, and a manager, interacting with published content from all angles. He is intimately familiar with the editorial process from the inception of an article idea, through the iterative process, past publishing, and down the road into performance analysis.