Understanding staged features

When you want to service a Windows installation by adding or removing a feature, the package containing the binaries for installing that feature can be in one of three states:

  • Installed The package has been installed and is present in the WinSxS folder.
  • Staged The package has not been installed but is present in the WinSxS folder.
  • Absent The package is not installed and is not present in the WinSxS folder. This state is also sometimes referred to as “disabled with payload removed.”

Packages that are not present in the WinSxS folder can still be installed in Windows Server 2012 if you use the –Source parameter for the Install-WindowsFeature cmdlet to specify a mounted .wim file—or you can omit the –Source parameter and allow the package needed to be downloaded from Windows Update. The new Features On Demand capability in Windows Server 2012 also allows administrators to remove packages from the WinSxS folder, something that could not be done on installations of previous versions of Windows.

Mitch Tulloch is a eight-time recipient of the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award and widely recognized expert on Windows administration, deployment and virtualization.  This tip was excerpted from his new book Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012 Training Guide published by Microsoft Press which is available from Amazon.  For more tips by Mitch you can follow him on Twitter or friend him on Facebook.

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