Microsoft announced yesterday (opens in new tab) that it's updating the Windows 10 Game bar, (which has the most annoying capitalization this side of the Mac mini) with Spotify integration, chat support and other features aimed at making it a PC gaming mainstay rather than an afterthought.
Spotify integration seems like a no-brainer. Many people listen to music while they play games--which explains why so many of our teammates in Overwatch can't hear call-outs--but that can sometimes require a bunch of Alt-Tabbing between windows. The upcoming version of the Game bar will make "play/pause/skip, changing current playback device and selecting playlists recommended for you by Spotify" available in a custom widget, Microsoft said in its announcement.
Game bar will also incorporate a new Xbox Social widget that offers information about what someone's friends are playing and makes it easy to message them, connect in a voice chat, or watch their stream on Mixer, (which we're sure is every PC gamer's streaming platform of choice, right?). Microsoft said the Xbox Social widget in the Game bar will support cross-platform messaging between iOS, Android and other Windows 10 users.
Microsoft also decided to step up its meme game with new screenshot and video editing features in the Game bar. The utility currently makes it easy to capture what's happening in a game, but it doesn't make it easy to "take this a step further by turning your captured screenshots into memes," as Microsoft put it. The new version of the Game bar will offer basic editing tools, as well as a way to share these dank captures directly to Twitter.
There's no doubt some people will find the Game bar more appealing because of these features. But not everyone's going to want a huge overlay taking up a large portion of their display, especially if there are widgets they never use. So Microsoft decided to add another feature to enable custom overlays. The company said Game bar users will be able to rearrange, pin and hide widgets to get their overlay just how they like it.
A beta version of this Game bar update is currently available to members of the Xbox Insider Program. Accessing it is as easy as launching the Xbox Insider Hub downloaded from the Microsoft Store, hitting Insider Content, picking Windows Gaming and making sure you're enrolled in the beta's flight. (Microsoft said anyone on Windows 10 build #17763 or later should automatically be enrolled.) Then, you just have to invoke the Game bar.