Microsoft has announced in its latest Windows 11 Insider preview build that it's starting to test Update Stack Packages to deliver improvements outside of (or prior to) major updates, hopefully minimizing any disruption or installation issues caused by larger, singular updates.
On the official Windows Insider Blog, Microsoft states that “We are beginning to test a new process for delivering new update improvements to our customers outside of major OS updates with Windows Insiders in the Dev Channel starting with Build 22478.”
“Through the Update Stack Package, we can deliver improvements to the update experience prior to the PC taking a monthly or Feature Update. The Update Stack Package will help ensure that your PC has the highest likelihood of successfully installing new updates with the best and least disruptive experience available.”
As reported by Windows Latest, it isn't apparent how these Update Stack Packages will work outside of just being automatically installed outside the typical preview, but it seems that they will be used to improve stability alongside larger, monthly updates. This could mean that smaller updates are delivered to systems prior to a larger OS update to prevent the slew of issues that users have been reporting post-update installation.
For now, this is being tested within the preview builds and is being restricted to a small set of update-related improvements, though it's likely that this will roll out to general users if it proves successful.
If these Stack Updates are automatically installed then you might not even notice that they've appeared on your system, especially if they're just to patch an existing issue, though you'll be able to find the stack packages in 'Windows Update' under your Windows 11 Settings page if you want to check on what's been installed onto your system.
Analysis: You're not losing any freedom
If this has made you uneasy, rest assured that Microsoft isn't getting any additional access to your system and the updates should be along the same lines as what has already been fed to consumers, albeit in stages to keep systems stable.
Still, Microsoft is also rolling out additional improvements within this update that should put your mind at ease, including updating the Setting app to include more options for managing Windows Updates, just as you would usually find in Control Panel. Right now, if you wanted to roll back to a previous build you can head into the 'Windows Update' section of the Settings and click 'Uninstall Updates'.
Admittedly, this feature isn't as comprehensive as the Control Panel, but Microsoft has promised additional improvements in future releases, so we could regain most of the same update permissions seen in Windows 10 in an upcoming update.
Given there is plenty of transparency regarding what is being included in these smaller updates, it's unlikely you need to concern yourself that Microsoft has nefarious intentions. Instead, this could make the process of updating much less daunting as it might reduce the chances of your system being impacted, such as with the recent Windows 10 Printer debacle.
Given Windows 11 was released back in October 2021, there's now been a few months of it being in use outside of Insider testing channels. Early adoption hesitancy of new software is understandable, but Microsoft seems to have found its rhythm with Windows 11, making this the ideal time to start looking to update if you've been putting it off.
- Check out our guide to Windows 11 problems and how to fix them