Microsoft Partners may request Windows Update blocks if drivers are incompatible - gHacks Tech News

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Microsoft Partners may request Windows Update blocks if drivers are incompatible

A new document by Microsoft reveals that Microsoft Partners may request Windows Update blocks for their devices or hardware if they find out that certain drivers are incompatible with new feature updates of the operating system.

It happens from time to time that device drivers are not compatible with new versions of Microsoft's Windows operating system (Microsoft revealed in 2018 that device driver quality was better than ever).

When Microsoft becomes aware of incompatibilities, it informs its partners about them during development of the new version of Windows so that they may fix the issue before the final release.

Sometimes, that does not happen in time or issues become known after the release. Microsoft may block devices with the hardware or driver from upgrading to the new version of Windows; this is called an update block and it is a temporary measure designed to prevent that customers who run Windows devices run into issues and to give partners time to produce a working and compatible driver.

We have seen several upgrade blocks this year alone, e.g. to prevent certain devices from upgrading to Windows 10 version 1903.

Up until now, it was Microsoft that put these blocks in place based on its data. The company has changed the process so that Microsoft Partners may request update blocks if they need more time to update certain device drivers.

windows 10 optional driver updates

The document, which is publicly available but has a NDA watermark, informs partners that they may requiest Windows Update offer blocks for up to 60 days.

It states:

Feature Update Windows Update (WU) Offer Block Mitigation Request

In order to ensure that end users have a good post-update experience, when a driver has a known incompatibility with a feature update, Partners can request a temporary WU offer block (~30-60 days) so that Windows Update will not offer the feature update to devices running a driver version with a known incompatibility.

The offer block will be removed once a partner has posted an updated driver (as Automatic and/or Dynamic) via Hardware Dev Center portal.

The document reveals another change related to drivers and Windows Update. Microsoft will automatically block new drivers from being offered through Windows Update before and after Patch Tuesday and the release of a new feature update:

  • Patch Tuesday: no new drivers the day before, at, and after Patch Tuesday.
  • Feature Updates: no new drivers the two days before, at, and the two days after the release date.

Closing Words

Microsoft hopes that the change will reduce the number of driver-related issues that Windows users will run into in the future. Whether that is really the case or whether it will be used by partners to delay development remains to be seen.

Now you: What is your take on this? (via Deskmodder, Dr. Windows)

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Microsoft Partners may request Windows Update blocks if drivers are incompatible
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Microsoft Partners may request Windows Update blocks if drivers are incompatible
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A new document by Microsoft reveals that Microsoft Partners may request Windows Update blocks for their devices or hardware if they find out that certain drivers are incompatible.
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Ghacks Technology News
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Comments

  1. John Fenderson said on January 9, 2020 at 6:09 pm
    Reply

    Is it possible to get a list of the drivers that cause WU to block updating? That could be useful to avoid the updates — just make sure that you always have such driver installed.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 9, 2020 at 6:21 pm
      Reply

      I don’t think that this is made available to the public.

    2. Peterc said on January 11, 2020 at 2:24 am
      Reply

      @John Fenderson: Great minds think alike! ;-)

  2. jern said on January 9, 2020 at 7:37 pm
    Reply

    I don’t see how MS can avoid driver related issues unless they can dictate user hardware and completely abandon older hardware – like Apple. We’ve already seen a push toward this goal with the MS/Intel agreement to block Win7 and earlier versions of Windows on Intel motherboards.

    Inevitably, this business model allows MS to dictate to users what hardware they can or can’t use. It also allows MS to dictate what kind of peripheral hardware/software can be developed. MS’s forced update policy really puts it in antitrust territory.

    1. GreenzWashed said on January 9, 2020 at 8:53 pm
      Reply

      This is why there needs to be Regulatory hearings as MS has been vertically integrating almost the entire independent Third Party OEM PC/Laptop market for decades. And Windows 7’s EOL along with Windows 8/8.1 being intentionally ignored by MS/Partners for hardware/driver support is going to result in a forced year of Linux on the desktop for older PC/Laptop hardware. And some perfectly functioning PC/Laptop hardware made unnaturally obsolete as well! So cue the eWaste boom as that happens.

      I really wish that the EU would directly fund more Linux Kernel Hardware/Driver development so folks with older hardware had an easier time transitioning to some Linux OS distro options.

      It really looks like the Blender Foundation is beginning to transition with Blender 2.8+ away from supporting older GPU hardware for Intel’s, AMD’s and Nvidia’s older GPU/CPU/APU generations that are still out there representing millions of PCs/Laptops. But Older Legacy GPU hardware support still happens via the Linux/Community path even after Intel, AMD, and Nvidia, along with MS, have declared that older GPU/Graphics hardware as legacy/depreciated and no longer supported for driver/graphics API development.

      1. jern said on January 9, 2020 at 10:59 pm
        Reply

        @GreenzWashed

        You write…
        “I really wish that the EU would directly fund more Linux Kernel Hardware/Driver development so folks with older hardware had an easier time transitioning to some Linux OS distro options.”

        I’d refer you to the Wikipedia article “List of Linux adopters.” An impressive number of nations in the EU and elsewhere have adopted Linux for one reason or another. I’m certain they already have programmers creating drivers for their particular hardware. The problem is getting those governments to release the drivers to the public. They may prefer to keep their drivers “in house” for security reasons.

        Apple has always been a “closed garden” and has made billions of dollars. It’s clear MS wants to go down that same path. MS is making it’s big money in the cloud, not by selling its Windows OS. However, it still has to support its OS base. If it restricts its support requirements it also restricts the amount of money expended on that support.

        The question for future users is the “closed garden” or “open garden.” The one is easy but requires giving a lot of money and control to MS. The second requires the user to self-educate and take responsibility for hardware, software, drivers and security. That’s not an easy choice for a lot of people.

  3. nealis said on January 10, 2020 at 4:18 am
    Reply

    I have run into issues with Windows 10 automatically updating drivers that crash my Nvidia card. There is a obtuse official MS tool to block specific drivers via hardware ID, but it only works until the next biannual feature update and then MS resets the Windows 10 settings and you have to redo the tweak again.

    Just another example of how half backed Windows 10 was/is. Why would you release a driver blocking tool that resets twice a year?

    However you do it, it totally worth getting Windows 10 LSTC to save yourself from the MS BS.

    1. Peterc said on January 11, 2020 at 8:17 pm
      Reply

      @nealis:

      “However you do it, [it’s] totally worth getting Windows 10 [LTSC] to save yourself from the MS BS.”

      I have insider connections in Hollywood, and from what I hear, an elaborate scheme to get individual-user licenses for Windows 10 LTSC is the *entire plot* of the leading script for Ocean’s 14. ;-)

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