Trying to Understand the Magic & Mystery of Windows Update

I’m still on Windows 10 for my personal PC, and I had one of my apps notify me I had some out of date drivers. I assume this was a pitch to buy whatever premium garbage the company was shilling, and besides I know the rule of thumb is to not update drivers unless something is broken, but it’s a lazy Saturday morning and I’m curious. One of them is my Realtek Audio.

According to this app, I have 6.0.9235.1 installed. I went into Device Manager and confirmed the version number. This app advised there’s a newer release available, 6.0.9376.1, so that’s a whole 0.0.0141 better!!! This is a joke, just to clarify for all those curmudgeons about to say, “That’s not how it works!” I searched to see if there was some extra level of shenanigans and this alleged driver update wasn’t real, but I even found it listed within Microsoft’s update catalogue.

Hmm. I routinely check for OS and driver updates via Windows Update, and I have Device Installation Settings set to automatically download but this driver never got picked up by my efforts. I click to update the driver within Device Manager, but it tells me “Windows has determined that the best driver for this device is already installed” and suggests to check Windows Update; I check it again, nothing.

So does Microsoft get new drivers but then delays their release for a long while (this driver was released on 7/4/22, 3 1/2 months ago) or are they picking up on something more subtle, where the chip in my motherboard just isn’t compatible for some reason? I’m wondering what kind of behind the scenes decision-making goes into this approach and how sophisticated Windows Update’s approach is. Does anyone here have any insight?

I’m not actually bothering to update this driver at the moment as my sound seems to work fine, but if there’s any side-step to this should I run into issues in the future then I’d also be curious to find that out, as well. Searching for the driver on Realtek’s website is “cumbersome” at best, lol.

Is this perhaps an update for windows 11 compatibility? So that if you don’t have windows 11 installed you don’t need it?

Possible, although the update catalogue has listings for both Windows 10 & 11; perhaps it’s for that transition?

Which app notified you of the update in the first place?

My guess is: (1) that app “knows” there’s a higher-numbered update available, but didn’t do much of anything to scan it for applicability to your system, whereas (2) Windows Update did that job and decided it wasn’t actually applicable.

We don’t know why the update isn’t applicable & you probably won’t find out unless you manually download the package and try to run it. Could be that it’s for Windows 11. Could be that it isn’t compatible with your installed motherboard hardware or chipset.

Honestly it’s probably not worth messing with unless something is broken, since force-installing it might break something.

Ask me how I know? I’ve been in the same place with my last few builds & have accidentally broken a functional install at least once every year or two. Ah the vagaries and wonders of the “open” PC infrastructure…

Just my AV.

Amen to that; I was honestly just a little bored and curious this morning, lol.

AV? Yeah its just comparing version numbers and bigger is better, innit. Windows Update has hardware and installed application compatibility checks/blocks and shiz, and they’ve even been known to work.

A few weeks ago my Windows Update “disappeared” and I can no longer update Windows 10. I’ve tried a few solutions that I found through Google, but nothing has worked.

My shutdown menu wants to install an update, but neither update option actually updates.

Where did it go? Do I need to reinstall Windows?

Good news is you typically don’t need to do a full reinstalls anymore, these days. Bad news is you may need to do a repair reinstall. Just offhand, I’d think to try the Windows Update troubleshooter, but I’m assuming that’s already been tried and failed. I’d also consider restarting in Safe Mode with networking and try to see if that does the trick. Finally, both your pending and old updates should be in C:\WINDOWS\SoftwareDistribution\Download and you can try to manually delete the naughty one from there and see if that helps.

I have tried the WU troubleshooter and it can’t identify the problem. I tried Safe Mode with Networking just now and it couldn’t connect to wifi, but the WU screen was still just blank anyway.

Should I delete everything from this folder? Then Restart, or Update and Restart?

I had something like this recently. There’s a way to recover>reset your Windows installation without losing all your files. But it will remove all installed programs.

It will also download the latest version of Windows 10 and replace your existing Windows installation. Your pictures and documents should be untouched, especially if you’re using OneDrive.

But it’s all the benefits of a fresh install without a lot of the hassle. For instance, you don’t need to do the first-time setup because it remembers your account.

And you will need to install hardware drivers and apps.

Edit - good point by Woolen_Horde. I somehow just jumped past that step. Do that first, and only do the below if that doesn’t work.

Everything in that folder has already been installed or it’s pending. Honestly, I’d give it a shot. As a random aside, I’d also do sfc /scannow from an elevated command prompt if you haven’t, already.

I don’t remember if that was one of the things I tried before, but I ran it just now and it didn’t find anything.

This computer is basically just for games so reinstalling all of them would be the biggest hassle. I’ll have to move it to a different room to hook up to ethernet. I guess if I have to I have to.

If they’re Steam games, just copy off the folder with all the game installs, then if resetting nukes it, after reinstalling Steam, put the folder back and let Steam scan it. It will download a tiny fraction of data and then Bob’s your uncle.

This is (one of the reasons) why I don’t install games under Program Files.

I’d do an in place upgrade to Windows 11, if your system supports it.

I decided to do a fresh reset of Windows today. So far the first two attempts have failed. I bought the computer from CyberPowerPC so I get to a screen with their logo and “Resetting this PC x%”. The first time it got up to 48%, then 65% the next time. Then it gets stuck and says something about undoing changes and takes me back to the profile login screen. Of course if I try to login it says the profile is gone or some such thing. Rrrgg! Trying a third time.

Oh by the way the first time I tried resetting from the cloud because I assumed that meant it would download Windows from a server. The second time it didn’t let me choose that option so I went with the local install option.