Starting with Windows 10, Microsoft has adopted the practice of delivering feature updates twice every year. It has been working fine, but it looks like this is about to change. The indication was evident when the Skip Ahead Ring (Insiders can be moved to next version development directly instead of waiting for feature update) was dropped. The Fast Ring is now the new Skip Ahead, which will not be linked to a particular version of Windows 10. It also makes it possible to roll out feature updates to Windows 10 Release directly from insiders.
Windows 10 Dev Teams split into Core OS & Shell Experience team
So what has happened here is that Microsoft has aligned the development cycle of the Windows 10 OS with Microsoft Azure. Azure updates roll out in the 2nd and 4rth quarter, unlike Windows which was 1st and 3rd quarter. According to a tweet from @WalkingCat:
So, the OS built-in ‘Suggestions’ System Experience is gone and is replaced by the ‘Suggestion UI Undocked’ app that can be updated at any time? guess that’s what ‘undocked’ means
This ‘undocked’ thing could also mean the separation of works by the two groups of original Windows team, the CoreOS team may follow the pace of Azure org, while the shell experiences part can evolve independently and much faster
While I am not sure it’s good or bad, it could give a chance to each of the teams to progress faster. Core OS teams can keep improving the OS functionality, and the Shell team can change the UI without depending much on the core updates.
Windows Feature Experience Pack
We also noticed an app Windows Feature Experience Pack, which I guess has mostly to do with Shell or UI update. We installed the app, and while it doesn’t have anything to deliver now, it has the Optional Packages section. Maybe in the future, the UI updates could be rolled through this, or it can give users a chance to try out new features by installing optional packages.
I dug in further, and the term Windows Experience Pack came out for Windows 7 or Windows Live Essentials. It allowed you create a theme, apply a static picture to Live messenger, and so on. A UI experience. You can see a preview of it on Wayback Machine.
The details are still flaky, so all we can do is speculate, but the separation seems to be happening, and Microsoft is taking a new path for updates.