These are the new game features in the Windows 11 2022 Update

Microsoft today announced the general availability of the Windows 11 2022 Update — also known as Windows 11 version 22H2 — the first major update to Windows 11 since its initial release last year. The Windows 11 2022 update brings a lot of new features and capabilities, of course, and that includes a few gaming improvements, including improved HDR support, the new Controller Bar, and more.

The controller bar

The Xbox Game Bar has been a feature in Windows since the early days of Windows 10, but with the Windows 11 2022 Update, Microsoft is optimizing it for controller users. When you open the Xbox Game Bar with an Xbox controller, instead of the usual array of widgets, you’ll see a quick launcher for recent games and game launchers you’ve used. This way you can quickly jump into a game if you connect a controller to your PC, so that you can play faster without having to switch between controller and keyboard.

Controller on Windows 11 background

Of course, you still have the option to switch back to the normal Game Bar view with all the widgets that it contains, so you can access social features, audio settings, and so on. And again, you’ll only see this Controller Bar if you’re using an Xbox controller – the usual keyboard shortcut (Windows + G) will still bring up the typical Game Bar UI.

HDR Calibration App

One of the big new features of Windows 11 compared to Windows 10 was the addition of Auto HDR, which allowed Windows to enable a degree of HDR support in several games that weren’t designed to support HDR out-of-the-box. . With this update, you can use Auto HDR in even more games.

Screenshot of the HDR Calibration app in Windows 11

With HDR monitors becoming more common for gaming, the Windows 11 2022 update also includes a new HDR calibration app, which can help improve the HDR experience on a wider range of monitors. With the HDR Calibration app, you can ensure that brightness levels and colors are matched to your specific monitor and that they remain more consistent across games, so you can get the best HDR experience possible.

Optimizations for games with windows and more

The Windows 11 2022 update also comes with major improvements to games that run in window mode, especially titles that are still based on DirectX 10 or 11. Now Windows 11 can enable features such as variable refresh rate, lower latency, and Auto HDR for titles that run in windowed mode, including borderless windows. Previously, this was only available for full-screen exclusive games, meaning that if you wanted to take advantage of these optimizations, you couldn’t overlay apps over the game you were playing, but that’s no longer the case.

Screenshot of optimizations for games with windows in Windows 11 Settings

If a game was based on DirectX 12, it could already take advantage of these window mode optimizations, but that wasn’t the case for titles based on older versions of DirectX. Many popular titles still use DirectX 10 or 11, so this feature should come in handy for many games.

In that regard, the Windows 11 2022 update comes with DirectX 12 Ultimate support and also includes support for DirectStorage. This is a new storage API that leverages the full power of modern GPUs, especially enabling hardware-based decompression of game assets. Previously, decompressing assets was a task that had to be passed through the CPU, which involved a lot of overhead. Decompressing assets can now be much faster, meaning load times can be much shorter and higher quality assets can be loaded quickly without sacrificing performance. This isn’t an entirely new feature, but it’s now included with Windows 11. It’s also part of the Xbox Series X and S consoles, which is why loading times on those systems can be so short.

Microsoft has focused quite a bit on gaming with both Windows and Microsoft Edge, and has recently released features like a dedicated games homepage for the browser, as well as Clarity Boost if you’re using Xbox Cloud Gaming with Edge. For Windows Insiders who are subscribed to the Dev Channel, a new Game Pass widget is also currently in testing, making it easier to find new games to play.

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