In 2019, Windows was plagued by Intel driver problems, forcing Microsoft to block some updates and re-patch others.

To help avoid update issues caused by hardware partners, Microsoft is now publishing a document with dates for driver releases. Partners will have to release driver updates within these dates to gain Microsoft’s approval.

In the document, the company describes how it is changing how it blocks affected Windows 10 upgrades when driver problems are evident.

“Recently when a driver update is released alongside OS updates, it has resulted in a poor experience and significantly impacted end users,” Microsoft explains.

“Occasionally, we have had other driver release incidents which occur outside normal business hours (Redmond time) which impact our ability to intervene and prevent additional devices from receiving ‘poor’ drivers. Additionally, we have received many requests to have a predictable driver release cadence from many partners.”

Under the previous system, Microsoft would only issue an update block when compatibility issues were discovered. Sometimes, this would happen after release. Now, the company allows partners to request update blocks until the driver has been approved.

“If there are known issues for feature update and driver compatibility, partners can request feature update offer block mitigation while a compatible driver update is being validated and posted to WU,” Microsoft states.

Microsoft explains the criteria for requesting an upgrade block includes “issues that affect the OS after upgrade such as a driver crash, BSOD or data loss, security issues, connectivity issues, etc, for which there is a fix in progress”.

Driver Issues

Last year, Microsoft described a critical flaw in devices with Intel Rapid Storage Technology (RST) driver versions between 15.1.01002 and 15.5.2.1053. Devices running these versions of RST were blocked from installing the Windows 10 May 2019 Update.

In November 2018, the company was forced to block some users from updating to the already problematic Windows 10 October 2018 Update. Microsoft described an issue caused by Intel’s new Display Driver. This was released in September 2018 but was not compatible with Windows 10 version 1809.