Windows 10 – Disabled Hardware Drivers & Automatic Updates

Windows 10 Logo

As an acknowledged geek within my family, I embraced the chance to move my personal desktop PC from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10 as soon as I got the chance. Everything went smoothly with the upgrade (which was a pleasant surprise) and I really like what Microsoft (MS) have done in improving the user experience. However, after closer inspection I noticed that not all the hardware configurations had migrated successfully – my USB Bluetooth adapter wasn’t showing in the Task Bar. A quick look in Device Manager identified the problem, Windows had disabled it due to stability issues with the driver.

Taking a pragmatic approach, as the hardware was quite old I assumed that this was probably something that MS hadn’t got round to supporting and I decided to wait until a Windows Update was released to fix the issue. Weeks went by without any sign of an update, so I trawled the web for other people who were experiencing the problem to see if there might be a solution. To my surprise I found several people reporting similar issues. After a bit of trial and error I eventually discovered that the drivers provided by the hardware manufacturer were the cause of the problem. Having uninstalled the manufacturer’s software via ‘Programs and Features’[i], uninstalled the device driver via Device Manager[ii], rebooted and re-attached the USB device to auto-install the generic Windows 10 driver, it started working again. Voila!

Device Installation Settings Dialog

Device Installation Settings Dialog

Two days later I started my PC only to find my Bluetooth device had been disabled again. I wondered what was going on. But after scratching my head and looking at properties of the device in Device Manager, I found that it was because a new device driver had been installed via Windows Update. Okay, no problem I thought, I will just repeat the procedure and hide this specific update… but hold on a minute, this is Windows 10, with automatic updates and no capability to control which updates are applied. After another trawl of the web I came across several posts that pointed to hardware device installation settings[iii] that enable control of whether device drivers are installed automatically. After making this change, Windows Update will not automatically install the latest manufacturer driver over the generic Windows version.

Several weeks later I was doing a bit of housekeeping on my PC and checked the status of the Windows Updates and found that although it hadn’t installed the new driver it was still prompting me to do so. This got me worried; what if this was blocking other updates from being applied, or another of my family inadvertently accepted the prompt? So I went back on to the web to see if there was a means of removing it from the internal list of updates to be applied. To my surprise and delight, not only was there a host of convoluted workarounds, but a MS Knowledge Base article providing a download that you can run to ‘Show or hide updates’ for Windows 10 (KB3073930). I found that a reboot was needed in order for this to register on Windows Update when you search for new updates. I think am I there now… 🙂

Show Hide Updates Troubleshooter Package Dialogs

‘Show or hide updates’ Trouble-shooter Package Dialogs

End Notes

[i] Right-click the Start button (or press Windows Key + X) and select ‘Programs and Features’, select the software associated with the 3rd Party hardware and click ‘Uninstall’.
[ii] Right-click the Start button (or press Windows Key + X) and select ‘Device Manager’, select the hardware type and expand it to display the specific device for the driver you want to uninstall, right-click the device, and select ‘Uninstall’ from the pop up menu. If shown, tick the ‘Delete the driver software for this device’ option and click OK. Windows will uninstall the device and delete the driver software.
[iii] Right-click the Start button (or press Windows Key + X) and select ‘Control Panel’, select ‘System’ or ‘Security and Security > System’ and select ‘Advanced system settings’ from the left hand menu. Click the ‘Hardware’ tab, click ‘Device Installation Settings’. In the dialog select ‘No, let me choose what to do’ and the ‘Never install driver software from Windows Update.’ and click ‘Save Changes’.

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