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Microsoft Windows 11 and 10 ignores user choices to force install AMD, Nvidia drivers

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Microsoft often force-pushes feature updates onto user PCs. As an example, it is going to do so soon for devices with Windows 10 21H2, a version of Windows that is reaching the end of servicing status very soon.

While this is generally to ensure that such machines continue receiving security patches among other updates, the company actually trained its own machine learning (ML) model while doing so for Windows 10 20H2. Microsoft has explained on a separate occasion how and when it pushes these updates.

Alongside feature updates, quality updates, and security patches, Microsoft also pushes WHQL-signed driver updates for components belonging to third-party hardware vendors. For example, it often updates AMD, Nvidia, or Realtek drivers, among others, with what it feels is the most appropriate version of it, overwriting what the user has installed.

While there are ways to disable this, it looks like a bug in the Windows Update service could be overriding these blocks and Windows is installing drivers regardless. Twitter user @ghost_motley noticed that Windows ignored their Group Policy Editor setting which was set to "Do not include drivers with Windows Updates" and went on to install a driver on their GeForce RTX 3090.

For those unaware, the Group Policy Management Console allows users to configure various options related to Windows Update. In its documentation explaining the various options, the company has provided the steps to enable the policy that allows users to disable driver updates via Windows Update. It writes:

If you want to disable driver updates for some reason, use the Group Policy Management Console to go to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Update > Do not include drivers with Windows Updates and enable the policy.

Curious about the matter, I went to my own Windows Update install history and found that Microsoft has indeed pushed its own driver on my Radeon RX 6800 XT even though I had disabled the option for automatic recommended driver updates via the Device Installation Settings.

Windows force updated drivers on my RX 6800 XT even though it was disabled

As you can notice in the image above, there is a large gap between February 2022 and December 2022 which is the period when Windows did not override the setting.

Although this may not always become problematic, there are many reports of AMD Radeon users will notice an error message that says: "Windows Update may have automatically replaced your AMD graphics driver ...":

In that case, the only way to fix the issue is to reinstall the graphics driver package. AMD has a support document (GPU-KB205) on how to fix the issue.

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