Microsoft explains why some driver updates are backdated on Windows 11/10

Windows 11 drivers update

If you frequently check for updates on Windows 11 or Windows
10, you might have noticed
old drivers and even defunct drivers under the optional updates
section. In the past few years, users have
received driver updates listed as “INTEL – System”, which
is backdated to 1968 despite having been delivered right after
upgrading to Windows 11.

Most of these drivers – which may appear problematic due to
their odd specification – are available under the Optional
Updates settings panel of Windows 11 and Windows 10. In a new
blog post, Microsoft has explained why and how these drivers
are backdated on Windows.

For those unaware, there are mainly three types of driver
releases – drivers issued by Windows/Microsoft, companies like
Intel and Nvidia, and custom drivers developed by PC
manufacturers.

Intel driver updates

According to the company, the dates on all Windows drivers are
set to
June 21, 2006 to reduce compatibility issues.

How drivers are backdated on Windows

Windows Update ranks drivers on various factors including the
date. For example, if a driver available in Microsoft’s driver
library is a perfect match to the hardware ID of the device,
then it will become the top candidate and users will be able to
download it.

However, if there is more than one driver matching the hardware
ID, a driver with the most recent timestamp is automatically
chosen. If there is a tie between multiple drivers in this case
as well, Microsoft will look at the highest file version number
matching the build release date.

But there’s a catch – Windows drivers will automatically have a
newer timestamp than the one provided by the manufacturer when
you install a new Windows build. As a result, your manufacturer
drivers will get replaced by Windows drivers and this could
break specific features on your device.

Windows drivers are apparently backdated to avoid the situation
highlighted above.

By backdating Windows drivers, Microsoft is allowing
manufacturer drivers to retain priority over the
Windows-provided driver.

In another document, Microsoft said that Intel drivers are
backdated to 1968 (the year when Intel was founded) for the
same reason – lower the rank of Intel’s drivers when
manufacturer drivers are available.

“This is necessary because it’s a supporting utility that
should not overwrite any other drivers. Updating Intel(R)
Chipset Device Software is not needed – do not worry if you
don’t have the latest version,” Intel noted in a now-deleted
blog post.

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