By Delia / Last update February 22, 2022

Windowed games make it easier to switch to other windows or applications, which is especially useful when users are multitasking.

Most Windows games take up the entire screen by default when played, and most of them can be opened in windowed mode, but some of them don't offer this option. In fact, whether users can play games in windowed instead of full screen depends on whether the developer allows it, and if the developer does not offer the windowed option, it may be because some features such as HDR do not support windowed mode.

Moreover, games in windowed mode offer a lower frame rate and in most cases the overall performance is not ideal. So after switching the game to windowed mode, users would be wise to take some extra steps to modify the settings to improve the performance of windowed games. To address such needs, Microsoft is also planning to introduce new optimizations for windowed games on Windows 11.

windows 11

How to run Windows 11 games in windowed mode

Most games that support windowed mode have a built-in toggle option. You can find the display or graphics area in the game settings and set the display mode to windowed.

If the game comes with a Game Launcher, then you can usually set the game display mode and resolution through it as well.

If the game is a Steam game and does not offer the option to switch display modes in game, you can do so via the Steam client:

  • Open the Steam library, right-click on the game you want to set to windowed mode, select Properties >> General >> Set Launch Options.
  • Here you can set various launch parameters. To add a windowed mode parameter, for example, you need to enter -windowed in the open field. Note that if you have other parameters like the width of the game window (-w) you need to separate them with a space. You can check out more parameters on the Steam website.

set launch option in Steam client

Windows 11 introduces optimizations for windowed games

The Windows 11 Build 22557 preview brings some new optimizations such as Auto HDR and Variable Refresh Rate (VRR). These improvements benefit gamers by reducing input lag and rendering the user's game frames in the most optimal way. One particularly notable improvement is the Optimizations for windowed games, which will benefit gamers who prefer windowed and borderless window modes for faster performance when their other applications are side-by-side.

To improve performance, Microsoft says it will also move classic apps/games from the traditional Bit mode to a new "Modern Flip Mode". Many games have already been updated to support modern flip mode, but the OS-level implementation will extend the feature to other bots on Telegram and more.

Try better windowed game performance in Windows 11:

Once you join the Dev channel, you can install Windows 11 Build 22557 and try the option by following steps:

  • Go to Settings >> System >> Display >> Default graphics settings
  • Find "Optimizations for windowed games" and enable the feature
  • Restart the game to see the changes

optimizations for windowed games

These optimizations only work when playing games in a windowed or borderless windowed environment, as this feature was already present in older desktop builds.

On the page above, users will also find some graphics options that are configured by default. According to Microsoft's statement, it is best to leave these options untouched to experience the best graphics settings in the game.

As mentioned earlier, the new optimized mode requires an upgrade to the Windows 11 Preview, but users can continue to wait a few months as these changes will be released with Sun Valley 2 later this year.