In order to get the best fit for their devices, PC and laptop manufacturers will often tinker with Intel's drivers prior to users installing them. The knock-on effect of which is that users are blocked from downloading Intel's latest generic drivers without workarounds—but no more.
If you thought downloading Intel's graphics drivers for your Intel-powered system would be as easy as heading to the driver download page and clicking install, you'd be wrong. No, users wishing to utilise the onboard integrated graphics (iGPU) with the latest graphics firmware have until this point been forced to seek the OEM-approved driver package, which often required a trip to the device manufacturer's website or patiently waiting for a pushed system update.
In theory, pre-approved and tailor-made OEM drivers should prove a simple and straightforward solution. But when is anything ever simple? The drivers provided by OEMs were often lacking functionality or the latest updates—such as game optimisations, new features, and bug fixes—and could be on a much slower update cadence. If they were even set to get the updates at all.
However, from this week onwards, Intel will be removing its generic driver updates from the OEM firmware package (via Windows Latest). This will allow users previously barred from Intel's generic DCH drivers to now download and install them from the Drivers and Support Assistant Tool without waiting on an OEM or system manufacturer to give them the all-clear.
You won't lose any OEM-specific functionality with the new drivers. These will be maintained via Windows Update.
"We heard how much our users want the freedom to upgrade their systems to our regularly released generic graphics drivers and enable our latest game optimisations, feature updates and fixes," Intel says in the 188.8.131.5241 driver release notes [PDF warning].
"Well, as of this release, Intel Graphics DCH drivers are now unlocked to upgrade freely between Computer Manufacturer (OEM) drivers and the Intel Generic graphics drivers on Download Center. Simply use the .exe and enjoy the update on your 6th Generation Intel processor platform or higher, and don’t worry about your OEM customisations, they remain intact with each upgrade and the OEMs can maintain customisations separately via Microsoft Windows Update. Intel Drivers and Support Assistant will also be unlocked starting April 28th, 2020."
With the announcement of Intel Xe, the company's graphics architecture set to release later this year, iGPU graphics drivers have been developing at a much faster pace. With the OEM levy lifted, far more users can make the most of these optimisations, many of which add support or fix bugs in the latest games.
Head to the Intel download centre to grab the latest drivers. You're free now.