Microsoft Is Experimenting With A New Way Of Delivering Windows 10 Feature Upgrades

Windows 10
Microsoft is in the habit of infusing new features into Windows 10 twice a year through bi-annual major upgrades, in between which it delivers monthly security updates (known as Patch Tuesday), as well as the occasional out-of-band update. In the near future, however, Microsoft might start injecting features into Windows 10 more frequently.

Don't worry, the company is not looking to deliver major refreshes more often than twice a year, a schedule that is already sometimes problematic—remember the train wreck that was the initial October 2018 Update? Instead, Microsoft has begun testing what it calls Windows Feature Experience Packs within its Windows Insider program.

The first of these showed up a month ago with little fanfare or explanation. And now there is a second one that is available to Insiders who are subscribed to the Beta channel. It is fairly minor update in the grand scheme of things, but this time around, Microsoft provided some clarity on the purpose of these packs.

"We are testing this new process out with Insiders to deliver new feature improvements to customers outside of major Windows 10 feature updates. Right now, we are starting out with a really scoped set of features and improvements. Over time, we hope to expand the scope and the frequency of releases in the future," Microsoft's Brandon LeBlank explained in a blog post.

The ultimate goal is to roll these Windows Feature Experience Pack updates into the existing service process for Windows 10, to dole them out to users through Windows Update. That way Microsoft can add new features and functions to Windows 10 on a more frequent basis. And while not mentioned, this might also benefit the bi-annual updates, which could in theory be smaller and more tightly focused on whatever goodies they bring to the table.

As for the current one being tested in the Insider program, LeBlanc notes that it improves the reliability of the screen snipping experience, especially with apps that access the clipboard often. The latest pack also removes the ability to copy and paste a screen snip directly into a folder in File Explorer because of an issue that was discovered. That ability will be added back at a later date.

"These Windows Feature Experience Pack updates are delivered to Insiders through Windows Update just like builds and cumulative updates are. Insiders in the Beta Channel can go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update and check for updates to receive this Windows Feature Experience Pack update," LeBlanc added.

Insiders who want to receive the latest pack will need to have Windows 20H2 build 19042.662 or higher installed. Also be aware that a reboot will be required after applying the pack.