Microsoft accidentally leaked StagingTool, an internal utility for unlocking hidden Windows 11 features

Twitter user XenoPanther recently discovered that Microsoft had published (and quickly removed) the StagingTool utility. It’s an internal tool used by company employees to enable “secret” features in Windows 11 developer builds that are present in the system but not yet explicitly offered to testers. It is very similar in functionality to the independent utility ViVeTool, but unlike it, it is completely official.

The utility was offered to users of the Windows Insider program as part of the Microsoft Bug Bash, which encourages users to try certain features, find bugs and errors, and report them to developers. This testing program often precedes a major Windows release, such as the Windows 11 23H2 update scheduled for this fall.

StagingTool has no graphical interface and is run from the command line with certain keys that enable a specific parameter. Before Microsoft removed the mention of this tool, XenoPanther managed to take a screenshot of the page where it is mentioned, along with an example of how to use it to enable the “Log in without password when my device powers on” option. Of course, this can be done without such tools in Windows 11, but as Microsoft explains, this method is intended for Chinese users as “an easy way to access the system while complying with China’s specific regulations”.

The utility was quickly taken down, but enthusiasts managed to download it, and now it can be found on the Internet if you wish. In the comments to the original tweet, XenoPanther also posted the checksum of the file he got his hands on, so if anyone wants to see it in action, they can verify that it’s the real StagingTool they downloaded, and not some Trojan with the same name. And of course, to enable a feature with it, you need to know its ID.