Xbox App for Windows is making PC gaming more accessible

Microsoft has just powered up the Xbox App for Windows in a new update that brings in a lot of useful changes, on the accessibility front for starters, and also with game cards, better filtering for your games library to find what you want, and more.

Windows Central reports that the May update for the Xbox App on PC is now out, reworking accessibility settings to make them more, well, accessible, bringing all these options together in a new menu.

Xbox App for Windows Accessibility Menu

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Essentially, this acts as a one-stop-shop hub where you can access accessibility settings for the Xbox app – for example, disabling animations or background images (those are actually two new features designed to remove what might be unnecessary distractions for some folks). Also, the menu offers convenient shortcuts to other accessibility options (for Windows in general, for instance, or the Xbox Game Bar).

Another significant change has been introduced for game cards, which offer up more info. So you can now see at a glance how long a game takes to finish (typically), details on pricing, and relevant info on when the title is coming to Game Pass (or indeed being dropped).

Xbox App for Windows Filters

(Image credit: Microsoft)

There are also new options to filter your game library, so for example, it’s possible to look for games you can beat in a few hours (under five) if you just want a quick fix for your next venture into PC gaming. It’s also possible to sort games via accessibility features, too.

Microsoft has implemented tweaks on the social side for the Xbox App, too, allowing you to pop out your friends list (or a chat) into a separate window. If you have two desktops going, you can have a game running full-screen in one, and your social stuff popped onto the other.

Xbox App for Windows Social

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Analysis: Impressive steps forward

There’s some very useful stuff added here, with the extra details on game cards, and additional filter options likely to prove very handy (especially the idea of looking for quick fix games, or indeed the opposite end of the spectrum – games that will consume your life for the next month or three, perhaps). Note that the estimations of game lengths are drawn from a website (

Furthermore, Microsoft continues to put its best foot forward with further efforts on the accessibility front. We’ve seen a lot of such work in Windows 11 at a broader level – with lots of progress with Voice Access in particular of late (courtesy of the Moment 3 update) – and it’s great to see this happening on the gaming side of the equation in the OS, too.

As a final note, one thing PC gamers might have missed is that Windows 11’s live captions work in games, too – and the feature does a pretty good job for those titles which don’t have native captions.

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Microsoft Edge wants to make the web more accessible for everyone

The revolutionary power of the internet is hard to quantify but for some, accessing even the basic aspects is difficult. Blind and low-vision people often interact with the web using screen readers, tools that read the contents of a page out loud. 

Unfortunately, msot screen readers rely on alternative text (or alt text) and other behind-the-scenes information to do their job properly, and developers can sometimes overlook these significant but small details.

In order to help out, Microsoft has announced new features for its Edge browser that automatically add alt text to images that do not have it already, something the company hopes will make the web more accessible.

“When a screen reader finds an image without a label, that image can be automatically processed by machine learning (ML) algorithms to describe the image in words and capture any text it contains,” says Microsoft’s Travis Leithead. “The algorithms are not perfect, and the quality of the descriptions will vary, but for users of screen readers, having some description for an image is often better than no context at all.” 

The update hopefully solves the problem of screen readers reading out “unlabelled graphic” whenever an image doesn’t have alt text. 

Microsoft Edge accessibility

Powering the technology is, of course, the company's Azure cloud platform. Any unlabelled image will be sent by Microsoft Edge to Azure’s computer vision systems, which then auto-generates alt text in English, Spanish, Japanese, Portuguese, or Chinese Simplified. 

Some images – like those that are smaller than 50×50 pixels, contain pornographic, gory, or sexually suggestive content, or are very large – unfortunately won’t be sent for analysis.  

Microsoft is rolling out the changes to Edge on Windows, macOS, and Linux right now and expects to add them to iOS and Android at a later date.

“This feature is still new, and we know that we are not done,” says Leithead. “We’ve already found some ways to make this feature even better, such as when images do have a label, but that label is not very helpful (e.g., a label of “image” or “picture” or similar synonym that is redundant with the obvious). Continuous image recognition and algorithm improvements will also refine the quality of the service.”

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