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Microsoft accidentally revealed its internal tool for enabling hidden features in Windows 11

A Windows 11 logo with a thinking emoji

On August 2, 2023, Microsoft started the August 2023 Bug Bash, asking Windows insiders to help developers find and fix bugs in the recently introduced features. You can participate in the bug bash by completing tasks or "quests" published in the Feedback Hub and then sharing your feedback with Microsoft. As it turned out, the Feedback Hub accidentally leaked Microsoft's internal tool for managing hidden features and gradually rolling out capabilities.

Windows insiders and enthusiasts know about the ViVeTool app—a third-party utility for enabling, disabling, and configuring various Windows features. As revealed by a quest in Feedback Hub, Microsoft also has a similar tool called "staging tool."

The now-removed quest in Feedback Hub asked Windows insiders to obtain the staging tool via a direct link, then enable a feature using something similar to the ViVeTool app commands. Here is a screenshot with a list of commands in the staging tool published by @XenoPanther on Twitter:

A screenshot of the leaked staging tool

Since Microsoft removed the quest mentioning the program, you can no longer get the staging tool directly from the Feedback Hub app. Still, the file is already spreading across the internet, meaning Windows insiders and enthusiasts can obtain a copy relatively easily (no links here for obvious reasons).

For those unfamiliar, feature IDs like the staging tool and the ViVeTool app use commands for turning on or off various parts of the operating system, modifying their state, etc. Microsoft often rolls out new features in waves, meaning one can wait for a specific thing for weeks. Having the correct ID lets you bypass the queue and force-enable whatever you want in Windows 11 (or remove something Microsoft does not want you to).

Besides kicking off the Bug Bash program, Microsoft unveiled a fresh set of Windows 11 preview builds today, so you can expect a bunch of unannounced features and their corresponding IDs to surface on the internet soon.

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