Microsoft wants to isolate third-party drivers on Windows 10

On Windows 10, drivers are required when you want to interact
with specific hardware, such as your graphics card and network
adapter. Usually, drivers are automatically installed when you
connect your devices or check for updates using the Windows
Update service.

However, sometimes, Windows 10 drivers could lead to serious
problems, including security issues. In Windows 10, all drivers
(including third-party drivers) are stored together in the
DriverStore, which is located under the System32 folder on the
system, and it is problematic for the operating system’s
overall health.

Microsoft has been using the “DriverStore” folder to store all
drivers since Windows Vista and it only includes a “trusted”
collection of first and third-party drivers. This folder allows
drivers based on INF files and the driver package is not stored
in the folder if the INF file is not included.

With Windows 10’s Sun Valley update, Microsoft is planning to
move the third-party drivers outside of the System32 folder.
After the next feature update, your third-party drivers will be
stored in a new “OEMDRIVERS” folder (C:WindowsOEMDRIVERS)
instead of DriverStore (C:WindowsSystem32).

Windows will still verify the digital signature of third-party
drivers before copying the package to the new “OEMDRIVERS”

OEM drivers

As shown in the above screenshot, this fundamental change is
currently live in the preview builds, but it can be tested only
when you perform an in-place upgrade of Windows 10 version 21H2
on a virtual machine.

Just like Windows 10X, “OEM DRIVERS” support allows the OS to
be isolated, or sandboxed, away from the rest of the
third-party drivers, and the primary benefit is security.

What you may quickly realize, however, is that OEMDrivers
folder is more than just a security improvement. It’s also a
bonus layer of performance, especially if you frequently update
your third-party drivers.

It’s not yet clear if isolating third-party drivers will also
reduce Blue Screen of Death errors and system crashes on
Windows 10.

Other Windows 10X features coming to Windows 10

In addition to driver improvements, Microsoft is also believed
to be working on Windows 10X-like features for the Sun Valley.

For example, Action Center will be updated with a new adaptive
interface that will provide access to both quick settings and
notification. Similarly, the Start Menu and other core elements
will use rounded corners instead of sharp corners.

Microsoft has already started testing
new personalization settings, new features for the touch
keyboard, support for improved touch UI in File Explorer, and
new icons too.

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