If you were worried that you’d have to wait a while before Windows 11 gets any major new features, then Microsoft has just shared some good news, which means the new operating system will get updated and improved far more regularly than first thought.
Microsoft had initially said that it would be only releasing a single annual feature update for Windows 11 each year, which led some people to worry that they would have to wait 12 months for new features to come to their PCs.
However, as ZDNet has discovered, in a new blog post about the Windows Insider program, Microsoft states that: “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.”
This means there will be three ‘Experience Pack’ updates alongside the annual feature updates. Rather than bringing a range of features, bug fixes and security upgrades across the whole of the Windows 11 operating system, as a major feature update does, these new Experience Packs will focus on adding or expanding features for particular aspects of the operating system.
So, Online Service Experience Packs will focus on adding features related to how Windows 11 manages online services and accounts – such as changing or improving the ‘Your Microsoft Account’ settings page.
Web Experience Packs will add features to do with browsing the internet, as well as features within Windows 11 that use the internet to bring you news and information. ZDNet spoke to Microsoft, which clarified that “the Web Experience Pack is updated through the Microsoft Store (while the Feature Experience Packs and Online Service Packs will be updated through Windows Update). The Web Experience Pack will allow Microsoft to update things like the Widgets experience in Windows 11.”
Finally, Feature Experience Packs will contain more broader features, such as updates to legacy apps to make them feel more modern.
Analysis: Keep the improvements coming
These new Experience Packs will be released independently of the annual major operating system updates, and this is good news for several reasons.
As we mentioned earlier, it means that you don’t have to wait a year for new features to be added. While in our Windows 11 review we said there’s a lot to like about the new operating system, it’s still not perfect. By having a regular new features coming to the operating system, Windows 11 will continue to evolve, while feeling fresh and exciting.
There’s another benefit as well. Microsoft’s move to single annual major updates for Windows 11 (and Windows 10, which is getting the same treatment) is a welcome move in many respects. It should reduce the number of times a user gets bugged to download, install and restart their PC. It’s also no secret that Microsoft has having some pretty major issues with recent Windows 10 updates. By focusing on a single update, there’s a hope that Microsoft will be able to ensure these updates are much better built and tested, hopefully reducing any potential problems.
However, if Microsoft kept all of its updates to a single download once per year, that could lead to very large and complex updates. By separating features to their own updates, this will reduce the size of the annual update.
Adding new features to an operating system is also fraught with complexities, and this is where issues sometimes arise. If a new feature is added that doesn’t work as expected – or ends up breaking other parts of the operating system – it should hopefully be easier for Microsoft to identify and fix if it’s part of a smaller Experience Pack update, rather than causing issues in a major annual update (which will also inevitably lead to bad PR).
So, this is good news from Microsoft regarding Windows 11. Hopefully the days of major issues after updating Windows are behind us.
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