Microsoft Begins Testing ‘Windows Feature Experience Packs’

The Insider Program was initially started as a way for Microsoft to establish a beta testing group to pilot new features and updates before releasing them to the general public. While we are typically accustomed to seeing new builds of the OS being pushed out, the company is starting to try something a little bit different.

Rather than an entire build, Microsoft is releasing to Insiders a new “Windows Feature Experience Pack”. What is this pack and how does it work? Let’s dig in.

The idea is that over the years, Microsoft has de-coupled many features in Windows 10 from the OS itself. As an example, Edge is now independent of the OS but more nuanced features like Snipping Tool and the touch keyboard are independent too.

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To make it easier to only update apps/features that are not tied directly to the OS, Microsoft is now testing Windows Feature Experience Pack. As you likely assumed by now, these packs update features of the OS without touching the build of Windows 10; think of this as a streamlined way to rapidly update features between releases.

This specific pack is called Windows Feature Experience Pack 120.2212.1070.0 and I can only hope that when the final product is released, it has a more friendly name.

On paper, it sounds like a good idea, and hopefully, in practice, it works out well too. The downside could be confusing for users who are needing help as they could be running Windows 10 version 20H2 with Windows Feature Experience Pack 120.2212.1070.0 – it’s a word-soup.

This is something to keep an eye on as this could be a way for Microsoft to help push bigger updates without impacting enterprise customers. On the consumer side, you download the latest stable release plus a sizable feature pack but for enterprise customers, you block this package as it is delivered via Windows Update.