Windows 10 updates are pushy when they have to be installed. You may be surprised to learn that Windows 10 doesn’t forcefully install all updates. There are in fact lots of updates that Windows 10 will never even tell you about even if they are available. These are optional updates.
Optional updates are neither security patches, nor are they feature updates. An optional update is a driver update or a firmware update for your system manufacturer, or they’re given a summary name ‘Other’.
Optional Windows 10 updates
An optional Windows 10 update may or may not be from Microsoft. Optional updates often include driver updates which are essentially from device manufacturers like Intel and are signed and approved by Microsoft for delivery through Windows Updates.
While these updates are grouped as ‘Optional’ some of them can be useful to install. If nothing else, if you install an update through Windows Updates, there will always be an option to roll them back easily if anything goes wrong.
Install Optional Updates on Windows 10
To check for and install Optional updates on Windows 10, follow these steps.
- Open the Settings app (Win+I keyboard shortcut).
- Go to Update and Security.
- Select the Windows Update tab.
- Click ‘View optional updates’.
- On the next screen, expand Driver Updates and Other Updates.
- Select the updates you want to download and install.
- Click the ‘Download and install’ button.
- The update will download and install. Your system may restart, depending on the update.
Missing ‘View optional updates
If you want to check for any optional updates that are available, but the ‘View optional updates’ option is missing, it means there are no optional updates of any type to install.
Windows 10 regularly checks for updates and when it does, it checks for all types of updates. Additionally, when you click the ‘Check for updates’ button, and manually check for updates, Windows again runs a check for optional updates. If they are not available, the ‘View optional updates’ option may not appear at all.
Optional updates aren’t rolled out for everyone uniformly. They are subject to the hardware that’s running on a system. Some Windows 10 users may see an optional update while others may not.
The Optional Updates will often feature updates that are years old. In some cases, you may even see an update that’s dated back to 1970 (see screenshot below).
This isn’t a mistake. Most updates are dated more recently e.g. 2016 or 2013 but the Intel update is dated 1970. This especially old driver isn’t meant to be installed on modern systems. It’s backdated so that it does not install over newer, more suitable drivers that are already installed.
As such, you shouldn’t install a driver this old. It’s listed for the rare system that needs it and technically should not show up on your system. That said, just because it’s showing up now doesn’t mean you should install it.