Microsoft is testing a new way of delivering features to Windows 10 machines via the Windows Feature Experience Pack.
Microsoft started experimenting with the Windows Feature Experience Pack along with the release of the May 2020 Windows 10 update last year.
The company was secretive about the Feature Experience Pack and initially wouldn't say what it was, but it appeared to be a way for it to deliver updates to Windows 10 rather than the traditional feature updates.
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The latest Windows Feature Experience Pack is version 120.2212.2020.0 and is going to Windows Insiders in the Beta Channel.
"We are testing this new process out with Insiders to deliver new feature improvements to customers outside of major Windows 10 feature updates," said Microsoft program manager Brandon LeBlanc.
"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," he said.
The first Windows Feature Experience Pack included included an updated Snipping tool, text input panel, and a shell-suggestion user interface
A recent update to the pack from late 2020 brought improvements to the snipping experience and touch keyboard.
This latest update aims to improve the reliability of screen snipping, especially with apps that access the clipboard often.
Microsoft is also removing the capability to copy and paste a screen snip directly into a folder in File Explorer because Windows Insiders discovered an unnamed issue with the feature.
"We hope to re-enable this capability in a future update after we address this issue," noted LeBlanc.
The pack updates are delivered via Windows Update in the same way cumulative updates are.
Users in the Beta Channel can get the pack by going to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update.
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To get this update, Insiders in the Beta Channel need to be on Windows 10 20H2 Build 19042.662 or higher.
LeBlanc explains that Microsoft plans to fold the Windows Feature Experience Pack updates into its cumulative non-security monthly updates, which are usually released in the weeks after its Patch Tuesday updates on the second Tuesday of each month.
Microsoft is testing this delivery mechanism as it weighs up significant changes to its usual pattern of two Windows 10 feature updates per year. The company might not release Windows 10 21H1, or the "spring" feature update for Windows 10. Instead, it's expected to release a major 21H2 "fall" feature update to line up with the release of Windows 10X.
Microsoft is planning to make some major changes to the user interface in Windows 10 under with what it's calling the Sun Valley update.