Windows has shipped with generic drivers for years now. These are basic drivers such as network and display ones that will give you a usable system right after a clean install. You won’t need to install drivers from disks, or other installation media just to get the system up and running. Windows 10 will also install generic drivers for all sorts of hardware that you connect to it.
These drivers install via Windows updates and you will never really have to interact with an executable file to install them. Windows 10 takes care of everything. This does have one drawback; you can’t get the stand alone driver file. If you have a system that can’t connect to the internet, and it needs these drivers, getting them might seem impossible. It’s not. Microsoft has its entire library of drivers and updates available and you can download whatever you need.
Stand alone Windows 10 drivers
Visit the Microsoft Update Catalog website. Use the search bar to look for drivers e.g., if you’re looking for display drivers, search for ‘Display’. The more generic a term you enter, the more results you’ll get and ‘Display’ is about as generic as it gets.
The search results will list various versions of drivers, and for different makes and models. This is where it gets tricky. You need to know which driver it is you’re looking for in order to narrow the results down.
Make sure you know the make and model of the device you want to find drivers for. If you need legacy drivers, you will be able to find them. The catalog has drivers for Windows 7 and later, and might also have some for Vista so you will likely be able to find legacy drivers but you need to know which version is best for the system you’re going to install them on.
Once you’ve found the right driver, click the ‘Download’ button next to it, and select the link in the window that opens. The file downloads as a CAB file. A CAB file is a compressed file format. Open it with a tool like 7Zip, and look for and run the executable inside it, or a look for and run a file named Setup. Alternatively, you can use Device Manager to install the driver. Go with the manual installation option, and select the downloaded driver when prompted to.
It may take a little trial and error figuring out which is the correct EXE to run but there really isn’t an easier way if you don’t go through Windows Updates.