Getting Started with Universal Windows drivers

Universal Windows drivers enable developers to create a single driver package that runs across multiple different device types, from embedded systems to tablets and desktop PCs.

A Universal Windows driver package contains an INF file and binaries that install and run on Universal Windows Platform (UWP) based editions of Windows 10 as well as other Windows 10 editions that share a common set of interfaces.

The driver binary can use KMDF, UMDF 2 or the Windows Driver Model (WDM).

A universal driver consists of the following parts: a base driver, optional component packages, and an optional hardware support app. The base driver contains all core functionality and shared code. Separately, optional component packages can contain customizations and additional settings.

Typically, a device manufacturer (IHV) writes the base driver, and a system builder (OEM) provides any optional component packages.

After IHV has certified the base driver, it can be deployed on all OEM systems. Because a base driver can be used across all systems that share a hardware part, Microsoft can test the base driver broadly via Windows Insider flighting, rather than limiting distribution to specific machines.

The OEM validates only the optional customizations that it provides for the OEM device.

Universal drivers are distributed through Windows Update, and hardware support apps are distributed through the Store.

Design Principles

When you write a universal driver package, there are four design principles to consider:

  • Declarative ("D"): Install the driver using only declarative INF directives and do not include any co-installers, RegisterDlls, etc.
  • Componentized ("C"): Edition-specific, OEM-specific and optional customizations to the driver are separate from the base driver package, so that the base driver, which provides only core device functionality, can be targeted, flighted and serviced independently from the customizations.
  • Hardware Support Apps ("H"): Any user interface (UI) component associated with a universal driver must be packaged as a Hardware Support App (HSA) or preinstalled on the OEM device. An HSA is an optional device-specific app that is paired with a driver. The application can be a Universal Windows Platform (UWP) or a Desktop Bridge app. You must distribute and update an HSA through the Microsoft Store. For details, see Hardware Support App (HSA): Steps for Driver Developers and Hardware Support App (HSA): Steps for App Developers.
  • Universal API compliance ("U"): Binaries in the universal driver package only call APIs and DDIs that are included in UWP-based editions of Windows 10. These DDIs are marked as Universal on the corresponding documentation reference pages. INF files use only universal INF syntax.

In the documentation, we use the acronym DCHU to refer to the above principles. Below, you'll find guidance on how to make your driver package DCHU-compliant. Also check out Universal Driver Scenarios, which describes how the DCHU universal driver sample applies the DCHU design principles.


The following are required when writing a universal driver package:

Best Practices