Microsoft started to work on improving how drivers are pushed via the Windows 10 operating system's automatic update features. Windows 10 includes functionality to distribute drivers to user systems, e.g. when a driver is required for a device to work at all or properly.
While Windows 10 users may install drivers manually if available, many devices rely on these drivers initially or at all.
In late 2019, Microsoft revealed plans to make it easier to discover optional drivers through Windows Updates. Microsoft introduced yet another change in January 2020 that gives device manufacturers better control over driver distribution. One of the benefits allows manufacturers to flag drivers as incompatible with certain versions of Windows 10 to prevent device updates.
Gradual rollout is yet another new feature that aims to improve drivers on Windows 10. Instead of pushing new drivers to all devices in the ecosystem right away, drivers are rolled out over time similar to how new Windows 10 versions are made available to a subset of devices at first.
Microsoft plans to monitor the driver using Telemetry to step in if a driver appears to be unhealthy. The distribution of the driver may then be paused so that issues may be investigated and fixed. A driver distribution may even be cancelled if no solution is found.
Gradual rollout drivers will only be made available to systems running Windows 10 version 1709 or later. Devices that run Windows 10 version 1703 or earlier will always receive the driver after the throttle is complete.
The entire gradual rollout process is divided into two phases:
The throttle curve is "tightly related to its risk assessment". Microsoft notes that optional drivers are usually throttled to 100% immediately but subject to the 30-day monitoring period.
Drivers may be throttled going forward and high risk drivers may be released to a small subset of the entire Windows 10 retail population only to monitor the experience and react to potential issues before the driver is made available to a larger percentage or even the entire population.
The new gradual rollout feature may reduce the number of devices impacted by driver issues distributed via Windows Update.
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