Windows 11 2022 update brings graphics options for games and a new Controller bar

Windows 11 Controller bar in 2022 update
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Windows 11's 2022 update has just arrived and packs some neat features for gamers, including a Controller bar along with various tweaks to usher in graphical improvements.

Let’s start with the Controller bar, which is a new controller-friendly view for the Xbox Game Bar. Those playing with a controller can bring it up with a simple tap – a press of the Xbox button for those using a Microsoft gamepad – and it provides a compact bar that lets you easily use the controller to access your most recently used games (or launchers).

On the boosting visuals front, a major move is the addition of a new HDR Calibration app for Windows 11 2022 update, which as you might guess, is for those who have an HDR monitor. The tool allows for better tuning of color accuracy and ensuring that bright areas aren’t blown out (and similarly that black levels are accurate for dark areas in your games).

Further good news for those with an HDR-capable monitor is that Auto HDR, which is the feature that boosts brightness and the color range to simulate HDR for games that don’t actually support it, is now available across more games.

This upgrade also grants Windows 11 improved DirectStorage support over a broader range of drive configurations (with RAID 0 now catered for).

Finally, for those who run games in a window rather than full-screen, windowed gaming has been vastly improved. Microsoft has brought Auto HDR and variable refresh rate (VRR) support to windowed games (they were only good for full-screen usage previously). Also, DX10 and DX11 games are set to get “dramatically improved” display latency when running in windowed mode with the 2022 update.

Analysis: Some handy upgrades, especially for those with HDR monitors

While there’s nothing revolutionary for gamers here, there are some solid, if more minor, upgrades that will improve quality of life in a number of scenarios.

It’s great to see Auto HDR support being extended – we’ve got a guide on how to enable this feature right here, by the way – and the HDR calibration tool is a useful boon, too. Those with an HDR monitor are certainly getting some love from Microsoft here, and as mentioned, so are folks who run games in a window. Not many people do so, it’s true, but still, there are use cases for windowed gaming, and promises of dramatic boosts for display latency sound like very good news indeed in terms of smooth gameplay.

The Controller bar is something we welcomed when it appeared in preview back in May of this year, when it was still quite buggy, mind. So hopefully those glitches will all have been ironed out, though as we know from past experience, it’s not unusual for problems to occur when a fresh upgrade arrives – especially a big feature update like this. Fingers crossed that any hitches are slight in their nature, whether they’re gaming-related or they pop up elsewhere in the Windows 11 2022 update.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).