Microsoft plans to restore optional updates listings in the next major feature update of Windows 10 that the company plans to release in May 2020.
The company removed the practical optional update listings that it provided in previous versions of its Windows operating system when it released Windows 10. The company did release a Troubleshooter to display optional updates but it appears to be no longer available. Third-party tools like Windows Update MiniTool came to the rescue.
This led to all kinds of issues including issues caused by automatic driver installations supplied via Windows Update. Options to disable driver installations via Windows Update exist using Group Policy or Registry changes but most Home users are probably unaware of them.
Hardware drivers can be updated manually and that is usually the better option as it gives administrators control over the feature. You can check out our guide on updating drivers in Windows here.
Optional update listings returned in the most recent build of the upcoming Windows 10 20H1 version of Windows 10. Microsoft has added a new "view optional updates" link on the Windows Update settings page that leads directly to the available optional updates.
Optional updates are sorted into groups; only driver updates were available at the time of writing though.
All drivers that are available on Windows Updates for the particular hardware configuration are listed under Driver Updates in the new Optional updates listing.
Each is listed with the manufacturer name, classification and name. One of the issues that you may run into here is that Windows Updates does not provide any additional information about these drivers; neither the version of the driver nor the release date are provided which makes the installation a gamble as you cannot be quite certain that the suggested driver is indeed newer or better than the current one.
The optional updates listing does not mean that drivers won't be installed automatically anymore by Windows Updates. The very first sentence under Driver updates confirms that:
If you have a specific problem, one of these drivers might help. Otherwise, automatic updates will keep your drivers up to date.
It is still best practice therefore to disable automatic driver installations via Windows Updates to avoid any surprises in that regard. While that may mean having to hunt down newer drivers manually, it is without doubt the better option.
The return of the Optional updates listing is still welcome as Microsoft may include other optional updates using it besides drivers.
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