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exile360

Windows DCH Drivers - It's about time!

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Apparently some genius at Microsoft (likely at the prompting of someone from a third party hardware manufacturer who figured out this is how it should be a long time ago :P) finally figured out that it might be a good idea to stop preventing basic, core, identical hardware drivers from installing on different devices just because some higher level software components and/or additional drivers/files may be specific to certain device types and OEMs (such as the driver software for notebooks which tend to focus on power saving features and avoiding thermal issues).  For a long time, many hardware manufacturers (looking at you, AMD) would prevent their standard/generic drivers from installing on some platforms/devices, especially notebooks and tablets because they assumed that the OEM that built and sold the system would provide their own 'special' driver for the hardware.  This is because, especially in laptops, tablets, all-in-ones and other non-desktop form factors, manufacturers will sometimes tweak the drivers they provide to customers to provide better battery life as well as down-clocking to prevent overheating.  The trouble is, all too often OEMs don't often update their drivers, and when they do, it is often much less frequently than the original hardware component manufacturer meaning that, unless the end user is allowed to install the more up to date drivers from the component manufacturer (such as Intel, AMD or NVIDIA), they are likely to miss out on major feature updates and bugfixes, including BSOD fixes, performance enhancements, security/vulnerability patches and other important updates to the core driver components.

It sounds reasonable in theory since it often is the case that an OEM will provide special drivers for the components shipped in their systems to customers to improve battery life and to optimize for the smaller, and often lower powered form factor for their non-desktop devices, however if you, like me, have ever actually taken a look at the base driver files being installed (not so much the "control" software or registry settings etc. that control things like power output, device sleep settings, low power modes, thermal throttling and device clock speeds/boost speeds etc.), they are completely identical so there is absolutely no reason that a person shouldn't be able to update these files using the drivers from the original component manufacturer's website using their much more up to date driver installation package.

So now, with DCH, hardware creators will have the opportunity to provide base/core driver packages that just update the core driver components without altering any of the higher level settings that control things like low power modes, sleep modes, thermal throttling settings and clock speeds/boost speeds so that users can have the best of both worlds.  All the benefits of the specially tuned/customized higher level settings/software provided by the system builder (the OEM) as well as the bugfixes, performance improvements and security/vulnerability patches provided by the individual component manufacturer who will often roll out driver updates much more frequently.

I'm amazed that nobody thought to do this sooner, but at least it's here now, and hopefully hardware developers will adopt this standard quickly now that Microsoft has implemented it and is pushing for it.

You can find out more about this feature on Microsoft's website here:

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-hardware/drivers/develop/getting-started-with-universal-drivers

You can read Intel's announcement (where I originally found out about this new feature/initiative) here:

https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/support/articles/000031572/programs/intel-corporation.html

To tell you the truth, I've always installed the drivers from the individual component manufacturers rather than my system's OEM because of this issue since the OEM's drivers would invariably be out of date almost immediately and you were lucky if you got two updates for a component's driver throughout the entire lifetime of the device when new drivers would be released multiple times a year if not monthly from the individual components' manufacturers and because, even though I do use a laptop, I do not run it off the battery (unless the power goes out; I like the laptop form factor for use around the house but don't actually take my system anywhere outside my home so it's always plugged in just like a desktop and I've optimized the cooling solution by replacing the thermal paste and modding the internals of the laptop to improve the airflow and eliminate any issues related to heat, thus allowing me to run a stable overclock on my hardware components full-time without any thermal throttling issues whatsoever).

This is one of the longest standing issues to create frustration and confusion for computer users and is one of the primary reasons so many users try these "driver updater" programs (which are generally PUPs and not recommended) and also why these types of programs will so often fail to detect/download/install the correct device drivers for a user's particular hardware components/system, because there are so many different versions available from so many sources.  DHC should eliminate the need for these types of applications, enabling users to go to a single known good source for each individual component to update their core driver components (especially since the higher level/performance/tuning related stuff isn't likely to change much if at all in most cases).

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