What are Windows Optional Updates?

In this post we will discuss what exactly windows optional updates are, where they are located, and if they are always “optional.”

What Are Windows Optional Updates?

Optional updates on a Windows computer mainly consist of driver and firmware updates.

These drivers are the background processes that control the hardware components of a computer.

Firmware imprints into a piece of hardware so it is at the lowest level of the computer. Firmware makes the computer function prior to, and without, an operating system if necessary.

How to Access Windows Updates

In order to view optional updates on windows simply type “updates” into the search bar on the taskbar.

If on Windows 11, the search bar is instead just a magnifying glass.

Windows 10 Search

Simply click on the box that says “Check for updates” that indicates it is in the system settings.

Windows 11 Search

Understanding the Update Screen

Once the “Check for updates” option is selected the user will be brought to one of these two menus. This is dependent upon whether or not Windows 10 or 11 is installed.

Windows 10 update screen
Windows 11 update screen

There will be two categories here. Main updates and Optional updates.

The first category is the Main updates to the OS.

This usually includes Windows Feature updates, .Net Framework updates, Security updates and everything in between.

Essentially anything that has to do with polishing or debugging the OS itself ends up here.

Windows Optional Updates

The second category of updates are the optional updates, and the main subject of this post.

These are accessible on Windows 10 with the Blue “View optional updates” button underneath the list of main updates. This option is displayed in red in the image above.

On Windows 11 the user must select the “advanced options” tab, also circled in red above.

When chosen the user will see a list of all drivers and firmware updates for the hardware in their computer.

Windows 10 optional updates
Windows 11 Optional updates

All computers will have different options here and it is dependent on the specific hardware installed and how often their drivers have been updated.

Are They Always Optional?

The short answer to this question is no.

These updates are listed as optional because usually the computer will not malfunction if they are not downloaded.

What makes the answer to this question no, is that often enough it can cause issues detrimental enough to cause malfunction.

One problem we see often at SDM, is a lack of updates for a laptop’s wireless receiver.

This makes the WiFi stop working. The solution is to plug the computer directly into the router and download the updates.

Obviously, this is very inconvenient and difficult when no hardwired connection is available.

If you have additional questions about this topic, check out the Windows Update FAQ page.

If you would like help from us with this process, just call or email and we’ll be happy to assist you!
Additionally, if you have specific questions, or if our terminology isn’t clear, please use our contact form to send us a message. Thank you!

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