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September 23, 2020

Build 20201 Gets Archive Apps Feature

Here’s an interesting new addition that shows up in some instances of Dev Channel Insider Preview Build 20201. Yes, that’s right: it’s an A/B item which means that MS is testing the feature by releasing it to some, but not all, downloads of that build. And for once, upon reading about this A/B item it actually shows up on at least one of my two Dev Channel test machines (I haven’t checked the other one … goes off to look … and there it is on the other machine, too).

You can see what this new element looks like, including its default state of being turned on, in the lead-in graphic for this story in the red box at left. By contrast, the right-hand side of that graphic comes from Version 2004, Build 19041.450, where it is indisputably missing.

Archive Apps Intended Functions

The explainer shown in the Archive apps item in Settings (Get there like this: Settings → Apps, where it pops up near the top of that window) reads as follows:

To save storage space and internet bandwidth, apps you don’t use frequently will be archived automatically. Your files and other data will be saved. The next time you use an archived app, it’ll connect to the internet to restore the full version (if it’s still available).

Thus, my understanding is that going forward (and possibly in 21H1, when that gets released) apps that are rarely or never used will be deleted from your local storage. Essentially, they will be “cached” in Microsoft’s cloud servers so, should you ever need them, they’ll be auto-downloaded and replaced on your local storage. At that point, the clock starts ticking again, and if they remain unused at the end of some as-yet unknown time interval, once again they’ll be removed from local storage. Kind of cool, actually. And because there are many, many UWP apps I never use and quite a few I’ve used only once or twice, I see this as a way to potentially regain some of the 2-3 GB that such apps currently consume on my various Windows 10 PCs.

[Note: Here’s a shout-out to writer Pradeep at MSPowerUser.com, whose August 28 story Windows 10 will soon allow you to save storage space by archiving apps alerted me to this new addition. Interestingly enough, the 20201 Announcement blog post, which also serves as a kind of ad hoc release notes for the build, says nothing about this new addition. So thanks, Pradeep, for sharing your findings with the world. It will be interesting to see how this new feature actually works, and what the clear-away time interval might be.]

Author: Ed Tittel

Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran. He’s a Princeton and multiple University of Texas graduate who’s worked in IT since 1981 when he started his first programming job. Over the past three decades he’s also worked as a manager, technical evangelist, consultant, trainer, and an expert witness. See his professional bio for all the details.

3 Responses “Build 20201 Gets Archive Apps Feature”

  1. CountMike
    August 28, 2020 at 17:31

    I got it too but where it’s “archiving” to when it has do be re-downloaded ? That would surely slow down APPs deployment specially with sčower internet speeds. Kinda useless for desktops and good laptops. I also noticed that it’s on by default which shouldn’t be.

  2. September 1, 2020 at 16:53

    It certainly raises more questions than it answers. We’re going to have to wait for MS to tell us more, or learn those answers by hook or by crook. Sigh. =e=

  3. CountMike
    September 1, 2020 at 17:06

    Typical MS, clear as mud, he, he.

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