How To Connect An Xbox Controller To Any Windows Device

In the gaming sphere, fans each have their own preferences. Some opt for the most advanced PC gaming rigs, which will have components and capacities oftentimes beyond those of games consoles, though there are affordable alternatives as well. The keyboard and mouse combo, meanwhile, offers a level of precision in titles like shooters and RTS games that conventional controllers aren't capable of.

At the same time, a controller layout tops that very same system in other games. The classic WASD can be far from ideal, especially for minute lateral movement. It's possible to get the best of both worlds by connecting a controller to a PC or other Windows device.

The Xbox Wireless Controller is a favorite of many for its ergonomic design and versatility. It's compatible with both Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S, but it can also be used with Microsoft's other devices. Here's how to connect your controller to a Windows PC and other Windows devices.

Connecting an Xbox wireless controller to a PC

In January 2023, Statista reported that more than 74% of desktop systems around the world were Windows. While a lot of these are surely work-dedicated systems, millions more were likely designed with gaming in mind. Fortunately, Windows makes it a snap to connect Xbox Controllers to a Windows PC.

There are several ways to do it. With an official Xbox Wireless Adapter, up to eight controllers can be connected at once. Users need only insert the USB device into their PC and pair the controller to it. Upon inserting the Xbox USB adapter, the PC may need to install files initially, but it shouldn't take long. After that, hold down the pairing button on the Xbox USB adapter until the LED starts flashing, then hold down the pairing button on the Xbox controller.

Alternatively, a direct USB connection can be used to link the controller with the PC. For newer Core controllers, you will need a USB Type-C cable, but older controllers still used micro-USB as well.

Some Xbox Wireless Controllers have Bluetooth capacity as well (those bundled with Xbox Series X and S have this by default). In this case, simply press and hold the Pair button on the controller until the Xbox light starts blinking, then enter "Bluetooth & Devices" from the Settings menu on Windows 11 (Bluetooth from the Devices settings menu on Window 10). Click "Add A Device" from there, and the controller can be paired via Bluetooth.

Connecting An Xbox Wireless Controller To A Surface Device

Tablets can be powerful gaming systems in their own right, but often rely on touchscreen controls. This setup is just fine for some titles, but ported or streamed games meant for a controller or mouse and keyboard suffer. The simple controls-on-screen approach can be very awkward to use, which is where controllers come in.

Fortunately, it's quick and convenient to sync an Xbox Wireless Controller to a Windows Surface laptop/tablet too. This way, users get the portability and convenience of handheld play, without compromising their experience with a sub-optimal control scheme. Beyond the Xbox Wireless Adapter, Surface Studio and Surface Studio 2, as well as well as Surface Book 2 and 3, include built-in compatibility with Xbox Wireless, no external devices needed.

For these devices, it's just a matter of hitting the Pair button on the controller, then opening the "Bluetooth & Devices" settings on your Surface device, and selecting Xbox One Compatible Wireless Device from the "Everything Else" tab.

Xbox Series X/S is home to a great library of titles, and the system's controller is a comfortable and ergonomically pleasing way to enjoy them. It's great that Microsoft has ensured that controller can be a part of your wider gaming life, too.