Microsoft's upcoming driver update changes may cause issues with plug-and-play

Earlier this year, Microsoft updated the Windows Update page to separate quality updates and optional/driver updates. This moved the optional and driver updates to a new location and allowed users to independently search for driver updates without using the Device Manager.

Now, Microsoft is making another change to how the company delivers manual driver updates to Windows 10 users. Starting from November 5, Windows 10 users will see a clear distinction between automatic and manual updates in Windows Update. Microsoft says this change will allow users to have more control over plug-and-play accessories that automatically download and install drivers.

Automatic driver updates will automatically be installed on your machine either when you plug-in a peripheral device for the first time, or when a device manufacturer publishes a driver to Windows Update. In other words, there will be no change to the plug-and-play scenario when an automatic driver is available on Windows Update.

Earlier 'automatic drivers' drivers were automatically installed when a device is plugged in for the first time. If the automatic driver is not available, Windows used to install the manual driver as a part of the plug-and-play feature to get the device up and running. However, the new change means if a user plugs in a peripheral that does not have an automatic update available, Windows will return a Driver Not Found (DNF) error and the device won't work. To remedy this, users will need to manually install the driver by navigating to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update > View optional updates.

In February, Microsoft rolled out an update that allowed developers to select automatic or manual under driver delivery options in Hardware Dev Center. The automatic driver option will publish the driver as both as Critical (CU) and Dynamic (DU) while the manual driver option will make the driver available under Windows Update UX.

While this gives more control to the user, it also causes issues for peripherals that don't have automatic drivers available and not everyone will know that they will need to go to Windows Update and manually download the driver for the hardware to work. The only way to avoid this is if every device has at least one automatic driver available that can be used to initialize the new hardware.

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