What do you get if you use a gaming PC from Alienware, a keyboard from Cooler Master, a headset from HyperX and a mouse from Razer at the same time? You get four different programs and interfaces to control all those flashing RGB lights. Sorry, that wasn’t a punchline, it’s just the annoying reality of different proprietary software to control a bunch of different PC gaming gadgets. But according to the code from the latest test build of Windows 11, it may soon get a more practical solution.
Twitter’s prolific Windows analyst Albacore (through The limit) spotted RGB lighting controls for USB accessories in Windows 11 build 25295, the latest Insider Preview Build to hit servers Just yesterday. There’s no mention of lighting controls in Microsoft’s official changelog, but that’s often the case with features the company is a bit uncertain about. According to screenshots posted to Twitter, this build of Windows 11 can change basic lighting modes and settings for keyboards, mice, headsets, and even more esoteric gadgets like Stream Deck.
Using a bunch of different driver programs to control the lighting on each individual component has long been a headache for PC gamers. (You may be familiar with these wails if you’re a regular viewer of ours Full Nerd Podcast!) There have been some examples of cross compatibility like Asus and Corsair gadgets working together and some can now connect to smart home systems like Google Home and Alexa.
The controls in the preview are pretty basic with just four templates, brightness and speed sliders, plus a solid color picker. But there’s an option to instantly match a specific gadget with the Windows accent color that the user specifies in the Personalization menu, which is a clever touch. Microsoft has been working on a universal lighting system since at least 2018, but this is the first time we’ve seen it implemented.
Windows 11 build 25295 is a pretty big leap forward, according to the release notes. We may have to wait until the annual update in the second half of 2023 to see most of its changes. And to be fair, it’s a bit of a coin toss as to whether Microsoft actually keeps this feature around – I suspect it will depend on how many accessory makers it can convince to comply with the standard. But the dream of a universal controller for half a dozen Rainbow accessories remains alive.