Activate Hidden Features in Windows 10 Insider Builds

As you may already know, Windows 10 Insider Preview includes a set of "hidden" feature which are not accessible to regular users. Usually, the OS includes features that are not finished or can cause some unexpected behavior. Here are two tools we can use to unblock such features, both free and open source.

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The tools are Mach2 and Vive Tool. Let's review them.

Mach2

The free open source tool Mach2 is developed by Rafael Rivera, and allows unblocking hidden OS features.

Mach2 UsageHere is the description from the author:

Feature Control is a system used to gate off new and unfinished features from production users in production code. The latter bit is important; it helps teams – like the Notepad team – safely work on changes in a constantly evolving master codebase, reducing costly integration efforts and boosting transparency. Teams needing to work with this pre-production code can easily flip a switch on their Windows machines – like Feature_FluentNotepadWorkForMaryJo. Everyone else, however, would continue to use production code and be none the wiser.

This is where Mach2 comes in.

Mach2 manages the Feature Store, a core component of Feature Control, where these switches live. It can display which features are enabled or disabled on a machine. It can also assist with the discovery of interesting features to flip on and off.

The application can be downloaded from the GitHub web site. It is a command line application which supports the following options:

  • mach2 --help - Show all available options and commands.
  • mach2 scan <directory to scan>  -  Scan a directory for *.pdb files to reveal new features.
  • mach2 display - Displays enabled, disabled, and defaulted feature IDs.
  • mach2 enable <ID> - Enable a specific feature.
  • mach2 disable <ID> - Disable a specific feature.

While the software is very useful, it is very inconvenient to work with IDs of features. You see what this or that features does, because there are no descriptions available. Also, some of the features may not appear in the GUI until you reboot the OS. Finally, enabling some incomplete feature may brick your PC and you will end with reinstalling the OS.

Vive Tool

Vive Tool

Vive is an open-source tool created by two well-known Windows enthusiasts, Rafael Rivera and Albacore. Similarly to Mach2, Vive can enable hidden features in Windows, which exist in the OS by hidden by Microsoft and/or under the A/B testing. Microsoft is using a Feature Control system that allows its engineers to have both 'stable' and work-in-progress code similarly in the OS. Both are available in a special Feature Store, and the latter portion is usually hidden from the user. Vive allows managing the Feature Store, and enable the features you are interested to try.

Vive is a C# library, and there is also a ViveTool app that uses the library and provides a console interface to its functions. Using it, it is easy to enable or disable a feature from the Feature Store.

It supports the following options:

  • queryconfig - Lists existing feature configuration(s)");
  • querysubs - Lists existing feature usage notification subscriptions");
  • changestamp - Prints the current feature store change stamp");
  • addconfig - Adds a feature configuration");
  • delconfig - Deletes a feature configuration");
  • addsub - Adds a feature usage subscription notification");
  • notifyusage - Fires a feature usage notification");
  • delsub - Deletes a feature usage subscription notification");

The following blog post illustrates how to use the app:

Enable New Start Menu in Windows 10 Build 20161

In short,

  1. ViVeTool.exe addconfig <feature_id> <feature_option>  - activate some feature (change its configuration).
  2. ViVeTool.exe delconfig <feature_id> - erase the earlier added configuration, e.g. reset the feature.

Thanks to Thurrott for covering Mach2.

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2 thoughts on “Activate Hidden Features in Windows 10 Insider Builds

  1. Ron Coughlin

    am trying now w10 fast ring current

    Reply
    1. Sergey Tkachenko Post author

      Good :-)

      Reply

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