Microsoft has started testing smaller feature updates for Windows 10 in the form of a Windows Feature Experience Pack. The branding appeared inside Windows 10 earlier this year, but Microsoft has only confirmed what the packs will be used for this week. The Windows Feature Experience Pack will be used to “improve certain features and experiences that are now developed independently of the OS,” according to Microsoft.
The first feature pack has been released to Windows 10 beta testers this week, and it includes the ability to use the built-in screen snipping app to paste screenshots directly into folders within the File Explorer. The pack also includes a split keyboard mode for 2-in-1 touch devices.
Microsoft says feature packs will be delivered to Windows testers much like how existing builds and cumulative updates are delivered. It’s not clear how these feature packs will make their way to consumers and enterprises, though. Feature packs appear to be a new channel for Microsoft to update parts of Windows that aren’t directly controlled by the OS but also aren’t separate apps that are maintained through the Windows Store.
It could mean we’ll see more regular minor updates to Windows 10 in the coming months and years ahead. Microsoft typically delivers two big Windows 10 updates per year, with one arriving around the April time frame and the other around October. The company has been using a Service Pack-style update model for some Windows 10 updates, including relatively minor changes in one of the updates and bigger changes in the other.
“By testing this process first with Windows Insiders, we hope to expand the scope and the frequency of releases in the future,” explains Microsoft’s Brandon LeBlanc. “Eventually, Windows Feature Experience Pack updates will get folded into the already existing servicing process for Windows 10 and delivered to customers that way through Windows Update.”