Microsoft Improves Faulty Driver Detection To Ensure Quick Rollback And Trades System Stability For Fastest Driver Deployment By Targeting ‘Cohorts’

Microsoft has been steadily improving its processes in relation to driver updates. The latest policy to ensure system stability is maintained during device driver update deployment, Microsoft is now targeting ‘cohorts’ or identically configured computers. Beginning this month, the company has already started blocking driver updates that fail to meet its passing criteria of the target cohort.

Microsoft Windows 10 has been quite unstable, and in several cases unusable, after Cumulative and Feature Updates that contained driver updates. Understanding that the majority of issues involving system crashes and weird behavior are due to the device drivers that are pushed via Windows Update, Microsoft has been amending its policies to improve the quality of driver updates. The company hopes to address crashes and compatibility issues before they become widespread.

Microsoft Updates Driver Evaluation Policy And Will Now Target ‘Cohorts’ For Telemetric Data About Driver Updates:

On several occasions, Windows 10 OS users have reported that the driver corrupted the installation of Windows 10 and broke key features. Microsoft has resorted to blocking several major updates from mass rollouts following reports of system crashes and erratic behavior patterns. Earlier this year, the company released new documentation for hardware partners to address compatibility problems with Windows 10. The documentation allowed the partners to ask Microsoft for feature upgrade blocks when they find driver compatibility issues. Simply put, OEMs could request Microsoft to freeze update rollout if they detected troublesome drivers.

Now, Microsoft is rolling out several new policies to improve the quality and distribution of drivers via Windows Update. Accordingly, Microsoft will release driver updates for the most compatible devices first. This update throttling should help both the hardware partner and Microsoft in getting feedback about driver quality.

Microsoft has decided to send out driver update to a limited number of devices in the Windows Insider program. The company will analyze the telemetry data received from these devices to ensure the quality of the driver. In other words, if a faulty driver is identified in the initial rollout to Windows Insider participants, Microsoft will pause the distribution of the driver update and get an updated or fixed driver. Incidentally, this policy is already active.

In the new policy, Microsoft will evaluate driver quality by targeting ‘cohorts’. These are essentially a set of systems and devices sharing the same targeting attributes such as the OS version, HWID (hardware identification assigned by the OEM), and CHID (Computer Hardware ID). Earlier this month, Microsoft started implementing this policy, and accordingly, will block driver updates that fail to meet its passing criteria of the target cohort.

In other words, Microsoft is exercising extreme caution while deploying drivers, and even the deployment is to a select few identically configured systems. If a driver fails in some of these machines, its deployment will be halted until the driver is fixed. The driver quality will be assessed on the basis of the data from machines in the Windows Insider Program and production channel.


Alap Naik Desai

A B.Tech Plastics (UDCT) and a Windows enthusiast. Optimizing the OS, exploring software, searching and deploying solutions to strange and weird issues is Alap's main interest.
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