Microsoft revealed this week how it plans to deliver content to Windows devices outside of the regular feature update and cumulative update process.
Microsoft’s Windows 10 and Windows 11 operating systems will receive one feature update per year going forward, and one cumulative update per month (not counting preview updates). Both can be used to deliver new features to user devices.
Company officials confirmed some time ago that features could also be pushed to Windows devices through other means. Last month, Microsoft announced that it would make some features available for public testing, including the much-awaited integration of the Windows Subsystem for Android.
A new blog post by Amanda Langowski on the official Windows Insider blog sheds some light on how Microsoft plans to deliver features to Windows devices that are not shipped with cumulative updates or the annual feature updates.
We will deliver updates to features and experiences in builds from the Dev and Beta Channels by releasing Feature, Web, and Online Service Experience Packs on top of these builds too.
Langowski mentions Dev and Beta channels, but the entire experience pack system is not limited to these channels.
- Feature Experience Packs — These push new features and updates to Windows devices when they are updated. They have been used for a while.
- Online Service Experience Packs — Smaller in nature than Feature Experience Packs, Online Service Experience Packs improve specific experiences. Microsoft names the “new Your Microsoft Account settings page” as an example of such an update.
- Web Experience Packs — Microsoft provides no description for Web Experience Packs. It could be used to improve web features, e.g. PWAs, Windows Widgets, or support for new technologies.
12 months is a long time when it comes to introducing new features and improvements to operating systems. Microsoft will use Experience Packs in the future to deliver updates to Windows devices outside of the annual feature updates that it will release.
Windows users will get faster access to features that Microsoft picks thanks to the new Experience Packs. Downside is that it may become more difficult to keep control over updates and feature additions. Up until now, Windows administrators could delay the installation of feature updates.
Now You: what is your take on the Experience Packs updating system?