A recent leak of a Microsoft internal tool will allow enthusiasts to gain access to hidden Windows 11 features in the same way Microsoft engineers test unreleased software, according to Windows Central.
Known as StagingTool, this mechanism can activate or disable features that are hidden and unannounced within Windows 11 Insider Preview software. While there are third-party versions of such tools that can find and enable hidden features within developmental software, including ViveTool and Mach2, StagingTool is essentially Microsoft’s official version. However, it is not intended for public use.
The tool was uncovered during a “bug bash” event, in which Microsoft gives people several tasks to complete and share their feedback via its Windows Feedback Hub. Microsoft typically gives participants badges through the Feedback Hub, but those involved in this particular bug bash went away with an extra prize. A link for StagingTool was included in the bug bash quest that was actually meant for internal testers.
Though Microsoft has since closed that bug bash quest, StagingTool has already been leaked and is making its rounds across the internet. Those who have accessed the tool describe it as a “command line interface.” It requires “feature IDs,” many of which can be found on GitHub, to activate or disable features, depending on the build of Windows 11 Insider Preview that is being released.
Microsoft often rolls out features to its Windows Insider Preview program that don’t make it to the final build of operating systems. However, with users now having the ability to override the system to find and enable whatever hidden features they want, Microsoft might have to rethink its methods of A/B testing.
Other details that surfaced in the leak include murmurs of “Moments,” which might be the future name of Windows 11 feature drops. This isn’t something Microsoft has yet mentioned publicly, but internal evidence of the brand’s plans has circulated for at least a year, Windows Central noted.