It feels like a distant memory but there was a time when Windows updates were delivered via the rare Service Packs. Since then, Microsoft has adopted a slogan of “Windows as a Service”, referring to a faster pace of rolling out security patches and bug fixes as needed. Windows features themselves, however, still wait for the company’s bi-annual releases, which have already been criticized for their lack of quality and testing. Microsoft has been testing new strategies and cycles to address that, and this new Windows Feature Experience Pack could herald some big changes in Windows releases.
In itself, this Windows Feature Experience Pack 120.2212.1070.0 that was just released to the Insiders’ Beta Channel is almost negligible. It involves minor improvements to the built-in screenshot functionality as well as adding split keyboard mode to the touch keyboard when in portrait orientation. These kinds of new features often have to wait for the next major Windows update, which is actually what makes the Experience Pack idea more interesting.
Microsoft’s Brandon LeBlanc explains that these Windows Feature Experience Packs touch on features that are developed independently of the operating system itself. In theory, this means these updates for certain built-in apps and features can be rolled out more frequently outside of the regular Windows release cycle. Ideally, this could make Microsoft more agile in addressing bugs just as it currently does with security issues and drivers.
On the one hand, this could make major Windows feature updates leaner and easier to test as they focus only on core OS functionality. On the other hand, Microsoft doesn’t exactly have a stellar track record when it comes to quick updates and it could mean it would only push out bugs faster as well.
Right now, though, Microsoft is still testing the waters and the Experience Pack update only covers a limited number of features. You even have to be a Windows Insider before you can experience this new update delivery system that will hopefully improve the quality of Windows feature updates overall.