Updated, 10/23/19, 5:05am PT: Microsoft released an update to Xbox Game Bar, which you can also use in Windows 10, with support for Achievements, a frame rate counter and other additions outlined in this post. (The features were previously limited to select users; now they appear to be available to anyone using the Windows 10 October 2018 Update or newer.) The Xbox Game Bar can be found in the Microsoft Store.
Original article, 9/23/19, 7:12am PT:
Microsoft still hasn't given up on the Xbox Game Bar. Windows Central reported Friday that an update to the utility introduced an Xbox Achievements overlay and frame rate counter. The update doesn't appear to be available to all Windows 10 users, however, so the features are probably still in testing.
It's been easy to dismiss the Game Bar since its debut as Windows 10 Game Bar. The utility was originally a limited capture tool used to record video or take screenshots while playing a game. Microsoft has steadily expanded the Game bar's usefulness over the last few years, though, with the hope of attracting more attention. The company also rebranded the utility to Xbox Game Bar in May as part of its efforts to unify its game platform and premier operating system.
In April, Microsoft updated the Xbox Game Bar with Spotify integration, chat support and basic photo editing tools. It also introduced a looking for group tool in May that was supposed to make it easier to find people to play a game with. That was a welcome addition--we said at the time that relying on official matchmaking often exposes players to "masses of trolls, throwers and terrible players." Tools like this can help avoid that.
Now the utility's received some oft-requested new features. Windows Central spotted a tweet from Mike Ybarra, the corporate vice president of Xbox Live, Xbox Game Pass and Mixer, highlighting the new features. Ybarra shared a screenshot that showed the Xbox Game Bar's new Achievements overlay, which can be used to "track your progress and see what you've unlocked" while playing a game, as well as a customizable frame rate counter.
Frame rate counters aren't particularly novel, and many games can show the current frame rate by default, but this update shows that Microsoft wants Xbox Game Bar to compete with a whole suite of add-ons. It's not hard to see what the company's going for: Why rely on separate tools for game capture, socializing and displaying frame rate data when Windows 10 ships with a utility that can serve all of those functions and then some?
There are plenty of reasons why people still won't give the Xbox Game Bar a chance after this update. It's hard to convince people to switch from tools that already work, and Xbox Game Bar is a jack of all trades but master of none, which means it can still pale in comparison to specialized tools. But at least now the Xbox Game Bar is more than a glorified capture tool that most people probably wouldn't even think about using while they're gaming.
Xbox Game Bar is available from the Microsoft Store. Once it's installed, it can be invoked in supported titles by pressing Win+G. Like we said at the top, the update doesn't currently work for all Windows 10 users, so don't be surprised if you can't turn on the Achievements overlay right now.
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Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.