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.
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.
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:
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.
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