New Windows 10 Manual Driver Updates process starts on November 5, 2020

Martin Brinkmann
Oct 29, 2020
Windows, Windows 10

Microsoft has changed driver distribution and installation processes on the company's Windows 10 operating system in recent time. The company moved the functionality to search for optional drivers from the Device Manager to the optional updates section of the Settings application, saying that it would improve the visibility of these updates to the user.

In August 2020, Microsoft revealed that "view optional updates" would be displayed on the main Windows Update page of the Settings application if optional updates, including drivers, are available.

These drivers can be installed manually by an administrator, but Microsoft suggests to only do so if specific problems or issues are noticed when using installed drivers.

Another change becomes available from November 5, 2020 onward for devices running Windows 10 version 2004. It changes the automatic driver installation process on Windows 10 version 2004 and newer machines.

windows update view optional updates

The process does not change for devices that are connected to the Windows PC for the first time. Windows will check for available drivers and install these automatic driver updates on the device to ensure that devices function properly once connected.

driver updates windows

The process changes for devices known to the PC already. While it is still possible to install drivers via Windows Update, these won't be installed automatically anymore on the device if available. Administrators need to seek out the optional updates section of Windows Updates to install these manually, e.g. when the installed driver has issues and no manufacturer driver is available or working properly either.

Microsoft decided to change the process of known device driver installations to give users more control over the entire process.

Now, to give users more control, Microsoft is redefining the way manual drivers are serviced for machines running Windows 10, version 2004 and later.

Basically, what it means is that less drivers will be installed automatically on Windows 10 version 2004 or newer devices.

The optional updates section is also the location that new feature updates are listed. While these are also listed on the startpage of Windows Update, along with options to download and install the feature update right away or to check out what is new, it is also possible to install the feature update from the optional updates page.

disable driver-installations windows updates

do not include drivers with Windows Updates

System administrators may disable automatic driver installations via Windows Updates using the Group Policy.

  1. Use the shortcut Windows-R to bring up the Run box.
  2. Type gpedit.msc and select OK. If you are not signed in with elevated rights, hold down Shift-Ctrl before you select OK. You will be asked to provide the administrative password.
  3. Go to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Update.
  4. Find "Do not include drivers with Windows Update" on the right.
  5. Double-click on the policy to check it out in detail.
  6. Set it to Enabled.
  7. Click Apply.
  8. Click OK.

Windows 10 Home administrators may configure the option using the Registry:

  1. Open the Run Box again by using Windows-R.
  2. Type regedit.exe and select OK.
  3. Confirm the UAC prompt.
  4. Go to the following path: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows
  5. Right-click on Windows and select New > Key.
  6. Name the key WindowsUpdate.
  7. Right-click on WindowsUpdate and select New > Dword (32-bit) Value.
  8. Name it ExcludeWUDriversInQualityUpdate.
  9. Set its value to 1.
  10. Restart the system.

Now You: have you installed drivers manually in the recent past on your Windows PCs?

New Windows 10 Manual Driver Updates process starts on November 5, 2020
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New Windows 10 Manual Driver Updates process starts on November 5, 2020
The manual driver installation process on Windows 10 devices running version 2004 or higher changes on November 5, 2020.
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  1. hg said on November 5, 2020 at 9:25 am

    phew.. somehow managed to cancel the upgrade to 2004… (i’m guessing by restarting the machine to update the .net update thing when 2004 isn’t finished d/ling) and now on the way to 2010… hopefully it’ll be functioning when it’s done. upgrades and updates should never have been lumped together.

  2. Ben said on November 1, 2020 at 1:43 am

    Good. Microsoft’s driver catalog is a mess, contains many old drivers with known security vulnerabilities. Earlier this year, I noticed that Windows was downgrading a working Realtek Audio driver on my system to an older version with a reported CVE.

  3. Sebas said on October 30, 2020 at 8:54 pm

    Everytime I check HP’s site, they don’t have any drivers updates for 2004 for my one year old desktop. I am fine with installing Windows drivers updates after making a restore point.

    However the not migrated Device errors come back after every new W10 version. And for that they have no driver updates. MS knows how to brick my system.

  4. JohnIL said on October 30, 2020 at 1:32 pm

    This is how Windows used to be with optional drivers. Funny how its come full circle back to where we were in Windows 7? Should have just just did a UI refresh for Windows 7 and stopped with the 5 years of Windows 10 BS we all have endured.

  5. AOC said on October 30, 2020 at 5:41 am

    I’m deeply concerned over the lack of telemetry embedded throughout Windows and Office, deeply concerned, and demand more be done to infect the last remaining vestiges of functionality left in these products that can be used without microsoft knowing all about it lest we start living anonymously and free in any way.

  6. owl said on October 30, 2020 at 2:32 am

    The “Microsoft policy change” is something that many end users have been waiting for. I am also one of them.
    However, I will watch carefully until the actual situation becomes clear.
    In other words, it’s the same as @ ULBoom’s comment “Given years of MS’s regular stream of simple faux pas, I’ve never let Windows Update install drivers and have never used any Catalog drivers, always downloaded them from the OEM’s site”.

  7. hg said on October 29, 2020 at 8:23 pm

    stupid update. i think i started an upgrade to 2004 (from 1909) by clicking on check update… didn’t want to do that. was waiting for 2010…

    oh well.. nothing i can do about it aside from delaying updates for a few days till i’m ready to update.

  8. ULBoom said on October 29, 2020 at 3:02 pm

    Question? Will the registry change Home users make remain intact after a reboot or update?

    I make the GP change in all our devices as part of their set ups. No Home allowed here, only Win 10 Pro (except one laptop that inexplicably picked up an Enterprise license instead of Pro.)

    I’ve wondered about the drivers included with Update and more recently Update Catalog, whether they’re the best ones or not. Drivers listed in the Catalog may not be the latest; they may appear and remain after a new version is posted to the driver oem’s site. Without special effort, drivers in Windows Update are invisible until they’re installed. With device manager you can roll back and hope reversion is done with no ill effects.

    Given years of MS’s regular stream of simple faux pas, I’ve never let Windows Update install drivers and have never used any Catalog drivers, always downloaded them from the oem’s site.

  9. Herman Cost said on October 29, 2020 at 2:09 pm

    Its sad that I am quite surprised that Microsoft is actually doing something that both gives users more control and improves the user Windows 10 experience. Of course, its not something that makes me want to update my system from 1909, but at least its a start.

  10. John G. said on October 29, 2020 at 1:53 pm

    Nice Microsoft move, they seemed to choose the right way to avoid issues, thanks @Martin! :]

    1. Anonymous said on October 30, 2020 at 2:42 am

      So they took away features we had in Windows 7 and now giving it back. Windows 10 is a downgrade.

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