Windows 10 operating system has had a risky relationship with drivers. Hence, Microsoft is reportedly planning to separate third-party drivers away from the operating system’s sensitive and vulnerable System32 folder.
Microsoft appears to be planning a separate virtual home for third-party drivers in Windows 10. The upcoming Sun Valley Cumulative Feature Update for Windows 10 apparently evicts such drivers from the usual DriverStore folder.
Third-party drivers relocated in upcoming Windows 10 Sun Valley Cumulative Feature Update:
Microsoft has designed Windows 10 to store all drivers together in the DriverStore. This folder also houses all third-party drivers as well.
The DriverStore folder is located inside the System32 folder on the system. Needless to mention, this is problematic for the operating system’s overall health and reliability.
The DriverStore folder wasn’t always the home for all drivers. Microsoft has been using the folder to store all drivers since Windows Vista.
The folder was to include a “trusted” collection of first and third-party drivers. The OS makes the distinction between trusted and untrusted based on the INF file that the driver ships with.
Can confirm that by enabling it ASAP all driver installations are redirected.
Here's a fresh 21343 VM with the feature enabled before 1st boot: both inbox printing extras and VMware tools drivers are now in OEMDRIVERS. pic.twitter.com/STd64xokIM
— Albacore (@thebookisclosed) March 25, 2021
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 Cumulative Feature Update, Microsoft is planning to move the third-party drivers outside of the System32 > DriverStore folder.
After the next feature update, Windows 10 will reportedly store all the third-party drivers in a new “OEMDRIVERS” folder (C:\Windows\OEMDRIVERS) instead of DriverStore (C:\Windows\System32).
Why is Microsoft separating drivers into separate folders?
Microsoft works with multiple hardware manufacturers to ensure the peripherals and components work reliably with Windows 10. The company has a Microsoft Certified Driver program. It involves securing a WHQL (Windows Hardware Quality Labs) release signature which is part of the Windows Hardware Certification Kit.
However, there are several OEMs that make computer hardware; and offer drivers through their own website or other distribution channels. These often work as desired.
However, there have been many cases of driver failure causing system instability. Poor quality or bad drivers have crashed Windows 10 on multiple occasions for several users in the past.
— Mirazon (@Mirazon) March 31, 2021
Microsoft has been trying to minimize the risk. The separation of Trusted and Untrusted drivers, as well as putting all third-party drivers inside a different folder are just a few of the ways.
It is important to note that Windows will still verify the digital signature of third-party drivers before copying the package to the new “OEMDRIVERS” folder.
Microsoft has clearly borrowed this new feature from Windows 10X. The lightweight fork of Windows 10 has several methods of isolating and protecting the OS and system.
Separating third-party drivers should not only boost the safety and reliability of Windows 10 but also improve security and performance. Simply put, Windows 10 PC users could expect fewer Blue Screen of Death errors and system crashes.