Getting Started with Windows Drivers

Starting at some point after Windows 10, version 2004, drivers that run on Windows will be classified as either Windows Drivers or Windows Desktop Drivers.

Windows Drivers will run on all Windows variants, including HoloLens, Xbox, Factory OS, and Windows Desktop editions. Windows Desktop Drivers will only run on Windows Desktop editions.

The Windows Driver classification will extend and replace the current Universal Driver classification.

This page provides a preview of the upcoming requirements for Windows Drivers.


The distinction between Windows Drivers and Windows Desktop Drivers does not affect any driver being submitted and certified for Windows 10 Version 2004. Changes in certification and submission will happen at a later date.

Windows Drivers Requirements

When Windows Drivers become a certification option, the following requirements will apply:

Windows Drivers vs. Windows Desktop Drivers

The following table summarizes the distinctions above:

Feature Windows Drivers Windows Desktop Drivers
Runs on Windows Desktop Yes Yes
Runs on non-Desktop variants of Windows Yes No
Must be certified with WHCP Yes No
WDK & HLK are primary vehicles for developing and certifying drivers Yes Yes
Adhere to stricter reliability and serviceability requirements (e.g. driver package isolation) Yes No

While it won't be required for a driver running only on Windows Desktop to meet the additional requirements for a Windows Driver, doing so will enhance driver serviceability and reliability, as well as preparing the driver for possible future certification on non-Desktop variants of Windows.