Microsoft rolls out important changes to Windows Update for Windows 10

Optional updates

Microsoft has started the roll out of changes to Windows Update that give Windows 10 users more control over the process of updating. There has been a spate of problematic updates from Microsoft recently, and the change that is rolling out now introduces a new "Optional updates" section to Windows Update.

An important aspect of the new Windows Update user experience is that driver updating has been dramatically improved. Microsoft says that the changes will help users to get hold of the "highest quality, and most reliable drivers faster and with less friction".

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As promised earlier in the year, Microsoft is giving new powers to its partners when it comes to drivers, and this can be seen to some extent in "Optional updates". Developers are able to mark their drivers as either Automatic or Manual. Those that are marked Automatic will be delivered to users on an automatic basis, while those that are marked Manual will appear as optional updates.

Microsoft says:

Driver publishing can be complicated. Optional drivers have various methods of acquisition, which creates confusion. Starting now we are making changes to streamline things a bit. All partners will now be able to publish drivers as automatic! This grants access to driver flighting, and gradual rollout. Which will allow Microsoft, and our partners to detect issues earlier and take corrective action if necessary.

In a blog post Microsoft explains changes that have been introduced by the Hardware Dev Center:

  1. Opening the Automatic publication path to all driver manufacturers -- enabling the entire ecosystem to benefit from Microsoft's quality and reliability processes.
  2. Creating a new set of Hardware API's (v2) with an Automatic shipping label as a default. The old Hardware API's (V1) will be deprecated the end of April 2020 to allow partners a smooth transition to the new version. To learn more about the changes, and deprecation of Hardware API v1 refer to this blog article:
  3. Allowing Automatic drivers to be offered to Windows 10 clients during throttling via the new Windows Update UX, enabling support teams to quickly address driver issues in the field without waiting for a full release.
  4. Changing the web UX default shipping label to "Automatic". The "Automatic" delivery option will publish the driver both as Critical (CU) and Dynamic (DU).
  5. The "Manual" delivery option requires the publisher to specifically choose it and explain the business justification for the choice. The drivers that are submitted through the "Manual" path will be offered to applicable machines through the new Windows Update UX.

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