Microsoft has announced a new approach to delivering new Windows features to organizations. The new approach will turn off by default any features that may be disruptive to organizations, such as those that change the user interface, add new applications, remove existing capabilities, or override previously configured settings. Organizations can choose to enable these features by setting a policy.
Why the Change?
Microsoft used to release new Windows features only through feature updates, which are new operating system releases that happen once a year. However, since November 2021, Microsoft has been delivering new Windows features whenever they are ready through monthly latest cumulative updates (LCUs), which are quality and security updates.
This change means that organizations can get new Windows 11 features faster and more frequently, but it also means that they may face more challenges in managing and testing these features. Some features may not be compatible with their existing systems, policies, or preferences, or may cause confusion or frustration for their end users.
To address these concerns, Microsoft has decided to give organizations more control over new Windows features. Starting from February 2023 on the Windows Insider Program Dev Channel, any features that may be disruptive to organizations will be off by default for all Windows update-managed devices, which are devices that use Windows Update for Business or Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) to determine which Windows updates are offered. These features will remain off until the device enables the policy or takes the next annual feature update.
New Features Managed by Group Policy
Organizations that want to enable new Windows features that are turned off by default can do so by setting a policy. Microsoft is using its enablement package technology to implement this policy. An enablement package consists of operating system bits that have been downloaded, but not activated, for a particular Windows release.
The policy to enable new Windows features can be set through Group Policy, Mobile Device Management (MDM), or PowerShell. Microsoft will provide more details on how to set the policy in the future.
How to Test the New Approach?
Microsoft is inviting organizations to test the new approach to delivering new Windows features through the Windows Insider Program Dev Channel. The new approach is available in Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 25295, which was released on January 12, 2023. Microsoft also plans to release it as a preview for Windows 11 version 22H2 with the February 2023 optional, cumulative, non-security preview release.
Organizations that want to join the Windows Insider Program Dev Channel can do so by following the steps on the Windows Insider Program website. Organizations that want to provide feedback on the new approach can do so through the Feedback Hub app or the Windows Insider forums.
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