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Are You Experienced? Microsoft packs up features developed independent of OS to flash at Windows Insiders

Windows Feature Experience Pack attempts to make beast more modular

The modularisation of Windows 10 continued this week as Microsoft popped a batch of potentially standalone components into a seperate Windows Feature Experience Pack.

Initially available to Beta Channel Windows Insiders running 20H2 build 19042.662, the pack contains bits of Windows 10 that are developed independently of the operating system. In this case, the pack includes some handy tweaks for the screenshot tool to paste directly to a File Explorer folder and a split touch keyboard in portrait mode on a 2-in-1 device.

The plan, according to self-proclaimed "Chief Nerd on the Windows Insider Program Team" Brandon LeBlanc, is to expand the scope of the pack and up the frequency of releases in the future. Eventually, the pack will be delivered to everyday users via Windows Update.

Microsoft has been quietly yanking bits of Windows out of the core operating system for a while now. Doing so makes quite a bit of sense since it unshackles components from the update cycle of Windows 10, which has seen elements become distinctly whiffy as they await the next update.

Notably, Microsoft's Chromium browser, Edge, is updated outside of the core operating system. The Linux kernel at the heart of the Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 also does not need a full-on Windows 10 release for an upgrade. Other tools, such as the retro throwback PowerToys, have always been outside Windows' update cycle and enjoyed a rapid pace of development.

Microsoft has a rich history when it comes to shipping bits outside of the core operating system. The original PowerToys aside, many will have fond memories of the Plus! pack for Windows 95 and XP or the Ultimate Extras for Vista.

Last night's release, however, is a step towards making Windows 10 a more modular vehicle and untying those components from the OS update cadence. ®

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