MS Publishes Internal Windows 11 Tool by Mistake

John Lister's picture

Microsoft has accidentally leaked a tool that lets users try out every new feature that's in development. It's grabbed the attention of tech enthusiasts but is very much not a good idea for the average user.

The tool came to light when Microsoft promoted an event called "Bug Bash". Normally that's an internal "all hands on deck" process where developers are told to hold off their normal work for a set period and instead concentrate solely on finding bugs in software.

Microsoft opened this process up to members of the Windows Insider program that lets the public access in-development version of Windows updates on the understanding that, by definition, not all features will work. (Source:

Testing Tool Published

As part of the event, Microsoft mistakenly published a link to an internal executable file called StagingTool. When activated, it lets users access all features in the test versions of upcoming Windows updates.

That's notable because Microsoft will often carry out A/B testing. This can be where a random selection of users get access to a feature and then the results are compared to a group who don't get feature. Alternatively, the two groups might get access to different versions of a feature that's in testing. (Source:

The StagingTool gives users complete control over which features they can and can't access. That's understandably very useful for Microsoft employees, but somewhat undermines the controlled element of the public testing.

Not For Average Joe

It's not necessarily a disaster for Microsoft as it may mean it gets feedback from users who discover a "secret" feature and sing its praises. On the other hand, it increases the risk that users access a new feature that doesn't work well or causes problems. If they complain publicly about it, people might not realize it was meant to be in an extremely limited test situation and there was no prospect of it being rolled out to the general public.

For the vast majority of users, getting hold of and using StagingTool is not recommended. As well as the risk of causing significant problems with Windows, its unintended public availability makes it a natural target for cyber criminals distributing fake copies.

What's Your Opinion?

Should Microsoft let Windows Insider users decide which features they can access and when? Does it matter that Microsoft accidentally leaked this tool? Should it try to crack down on people using it without permission.

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