Microsoft is giving PC gamers another reason to use the Widgets panel in Windows 11: a new Game Pass widget. But that’s not all, as the company is also testing more expansive Game Pass family plan options in select countries.
Windows 11 widgets have been somewhat controversial. Essentially, they’re a small collection of news and information that you can use to keep up on the events of the world, or else they can be wasted space that you’ll want to remove. Microsoft is reportedly opening up widgets to third-party developers, though.
But Microsoft realizes that its superb Game Pass Ultimate subscription (which you can get for “free,” or by working the system) has an inherent problem: you never quite know what’s available, what’s not, what’s arriving, and what’s departing the subscription. That’s where the Game Pass widget comes in. You can add it to your existing list of widgets, and never have to miss a thing.
The catch? It’s only available to Windows Insider preview testers at the moment, specifically as part of Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 25174 in the Dev Channel. If it’s anything like Microsoft’s other additions, however, expect to see it sneak into the Windows 11 Stable Channel soon for mainstream users.
Mark Hachman / IDG
To add the Game Pass widget, Dev Channel users can open the Widgets board on the left-hand corner of your screen. Click on the “+” icon next to your user profile, then scroll down to the Game Pass widget and add the “+” icon, too. You should now see the Game Pass icon as part of the Widgets board.
[ Further reading: Best cloud gaming services: GeForce Now vs. Xbox Game Pass vs. Google Stadia and others ]
A Game Pass Ultimate Family subscription waits in the wings
It might not be just you that should add the Game Pass subscription, either. Microsoft said Thursday that it is testing a new shareable Game Pass Ultimate subscription — the family plan that some have hoped Microsoft would add. Under the new subscription, gamers would be able to share their Game Pass Ultimate subscription with four other people. Unfortunately, Microsoft is limiting the trial to just Colombia and Ireland right now.
Microsoft isn’t saying exactly how much the subscription will cost, either, though “a full month of Ultimate will be converted to 18 days of membership for this plan,” Microsoft said. Those you share the subscription with, however, won’t be able to convert their subscription over to a family plan, however.
In any event, both additions to Microsoft’s Game Pass plan certainly continue Microsoft’s trend to expand Game Pass and its subscription model. Microsoft wants you to think about subscribing to Game Pass alongside Spotify, Netflix, and other services, and this is a handy way to do it.
Author: Mark Hachman, Senior Editor
As PCWorld’s senior editor, Mark focuses on Microsoft news and chip technology, among other beats. He has formerly written for PCMag, BYTE, Slashdot, eWEEK, and ReadWrite.