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

If you frequently check for updates on Windows 11 or Windows 10, you might have noticed old drivers and even outdated drivers in the optional updates section. In recent years, users have received driver updates listed as “INTEL – System”, which are backdated to 1968 although they were shipped immediately after upgrading to Windows 11.

Most of these drivers – which can seem problematic due to their weird specifications – are available in the Windows 11 and Windows 10 Optional Updates settings panel. In a new blog post, Microsoft explained why and how these drivers are backdated on Windows.

For those who don’t know, there are mainly three types of driver versions: drivers released 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 together to June 21, 2006 to reduce compatibility issues.

How drivers are backdated in Windows

Windows Update ranks drivers on a variety of factors, including date. For example, if a driver available in Microsoft’s driver library matches the device hardware ID perfectly, it will become the best candidate and users can download it.

However, if there is more than one driver matching the hardware ID, a driver with the most recent time stamp is automatically chosen. If there is also a link between multiple drivers in this case, Microsoft will look at the highest file version number corresponding to the release date of the version.

But there is a catch: Windows drivers will automatically have a newer timestamp than the one provided by the manufacturer when you install a new version of Windows. As a result, your manufacturer’s drivers will be replaced with Windows drivers, which may damage specific features of your device.

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

By backdating Windows drivers, Microsoft allows manufacturer drivers to retain priority over the driver provided by Windows.

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

“This is necessary because it is a support utility that should not overwrite other drivers. Updating the Intel (R) chipset software is not necessary – don’t worry if you don’t have the latest version, ”Intel noted in a now-deleted blog post.

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