By Delia / Last update December 31, 2021

If you regularly check for updates to Windows 11 or Windows 10, you may have noticed that old drivers or even failed drivers appear in the optional updates section. Over the past few years, users have received driver updates listed as "INTEL - System" that are backdated to 1968, despite having been delivered after the upgrade to Windows 11.

windows 11 drivers 1968

Most of these drivers seem problematic due to the strange specifications. In a new blog post, Microsoft has explained why and how these drivers are backdated on Windows. Currently, there are three main sources of drivers released on the Windows platform, one of which is published by Windows/Microsoft, the other is published by companies like Intel/NVIDIA, and then there are custom drivers released by PC manufacturers.

Microsoft says that all Windows drivers are dated to June 21, 2006 to minimize compatibility issues.

How drivers are back-dated on Windows

Windows Update ranks drivers based on a variety of factors, including date. For example, if a driver in Microsoft's driver library matches the device's hardware ID exactly, then it will be the top candidate and users will be able to download it.

However, if more than one driver matches the hardware ID, the one with the most recent timestamp will be automatically selected. If there is also a parallel between multiple drivers in this case, Microsoft will look at the highest file version number that matches the build release date.

But there's a catch - when you install a new version of Windows, the Windows driver will automatically have a newer timestamp than the one provided by the OEM manufacturer. As a result, your OEM manufacturer's drivers will be replaced by Windows drivers, which can break specific functionality on your device.

And by backdating the Windows driver, Microsoft allows the OEM manufacturer's driver to retain priority over the Windows-supplied driver.

In a separate document, Microsoft said that Intel's drivers were backdated to 1968 (the year Intel was founded) for the same reason -- to downgrade Intel's drivers when OEM manufacturer's drivers were available.