Windows 10 offers robust connectivity to a plethora of hardware components and external peripherals. But one thing that’s still a pain to users is some buggy Windows drivers that power these components. Third-party drivers are mostly the ones that run into compatibility issues.
That’s kind of expected sometimes as there is an uncountable number of configurations that OEMs cater to. Microsoft has now come up with a solution that involves doing some restructuring of the system. It plans to isolate third-party drivers from the main Windows 10 installation.
Isolating third-party Windows 10 drivers: what does it mean
The upcoming change was spotted by Albacore (via TechRepublic) in the latest 21H2 insider build 21343. The 21H2 feature update is scheduled for rollout in the second half of 2021.
Now, what exactly Microsoft will do while isolating third-party drivers is it will put them in a separate folder called OEMDRIVERS.
Many believe that putting Windows and OEM drivers together isn’t the best idea. Any mess up might lead to a system crash, a blue screen of death, or some other chaos on the user’s device.
At present, both critical Windows 10 drivers and the ones from third parties live together in a folder called the DriverStore which is located inside C:\Windows\System32. Microsoft puts drivers in the DriverStore folder after verifying their digital signature to prevent tampering. This is to make sure malicious software doesn’t make its way to an important system folder.
Another change is that the new OEMDRIVERS folder will be a direct subfolder to the C:\Windows folder.
If you want to see the new folder hierarchy, you need to install build 21343 and do some manual work. A feature called ‘Writeable_DriverStore’ should be turned on before the first boot of the new Windows 10 version. Once it’s enabled, Windows 10 will automatically transfer third-party drivers to the new folder.
What does it mean for the users?
There isn’t much that general users need to do regarding the upcoming third-party driver isolation feature. While the insider build involves manual work, the changes will be under the hood (if they arrive) and enabled by default when the 21H2 update arrives. We can relax on the fact that future versions of Windows 10 will have lesser driver-related issues.