How to download the Nvidia Control Panel without the Microsoft Store

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If you haven’t updated your graphics drivers recently, you may not be aware of a change implemented by Nvidia in December 2019. As of that date, the Nvidia Control Panel does not is no longer distributed in the version of Nvidia drivers available by default on the main site. If you go to Nvidia.com and check the “GeForce Driver” page, the driver you will be offered is what Microsoft calls a “DCH” (Declarative Componentized Hardware) driver, and it does not include the Nvidia control panel. From now on, if you want the Nvidia Control Panel – and you probably do – you have to get it from the Microsoft Store. According to Nvidia, these changes were due to new requirements from Microsoft. DCH drivers always have the string “DCH” in the file name, for example “445.87-desktop-win10-64bit-international-dch-whql.exe”

While it’s possible to download apps from the Microsoft Store without using a Microsoft account, the company uses any interaction with the Store as an excuse to push you into creating one. When you try to download the Nvidia Control Panel without logging in first, the Windows Store will display a login window in front of you to tell you must create an account in order to install the software.

You don’t need to sign in, but Microsoft is doing everything it can to convince you that you are. When you click “Install”, this window appears. Note that there is no actual installation yet, emphasizing the idea that you must enter information in these boxes to continue.

If you “X” outside of this window, the Nvidia control panel will install normally. If you’re happy to allow Microsoft to manage your drivers, you might not mind going down this route. In my own name, I to do disturbs.

I laugh! Microsoft was not serious about that. This is known as a dark pattern.

I find Microsoft’s continued attempts to distort the need for a Windows account online or to trick users into creating one extremely distasteful. Even though I didn’t, I’ve had far too many bad experiences with allowing Windows to update the drivers to give the operating system free rein to do so. Allowing the operating system to stealthily update drivers on a test bench without requiring explicit permission is a great way to end up testing two different GPU drivers without even knowing it.

In some cases, enthusiasts may need to maintain specific driver versions to resolve bugs introduced in later versions. I had to manually uninstall a friend’s AMD GPU drivers earlier this year after Windows updated it with a driver afflicted with the black screen issues that plagued Radeon cards earlier in 2020. So that AMD’s driver issues in this case weren’t Microsoft’s fault, the fact remains, it was Microsoft that updated my friend’s GPU with an incompatible driver – not him.

In addition, under this new distribution scheme, your Control Panel may be incompatible with your currently installed driver. Nvidia offers a tutorial on how to fix this if this happens to you, but Microsoft has no activity forcing customers to go through these steps in the first place.

How to download standard Nvidia drivers

Fortunately, there is still an alternative available from Nvidia itself, as mentioned in the company’s help page for these driver distribution changes. Gamers and IT customers can download a distribution of standard Nvidia drivers using the Advanced Driver Search page. Note that this page is different from the “All Drivers” search page.

Nvidia’s advanced driver search page.

One of the self-explanatory options on the Advanced Search page is to search for the standard Nvidia driver download as opposed to the DCH version. We spoke to Nvidia about the Standard vs. DCH issue and while the company assures us that the two sets of drivers are functionally equivalent, they also have no plans to stop offering a Standard driver.

If you want to use the standard driver, we recommend that you install Display Driver Uninstaller (DDU) and set the option to prevent Windows from checking for updated drivers while running Windows Update:

Display Driver Uninstaller

The order of events that I would recommend following to ensure a smooth uninstall / reinstall process is:

1). Download DDU and the standard Nvidia driver you want to install.

2). Run the default Nvidia uninstaller. Do not restart immediately after uninstalling your existing driver.

3). Launch DDU and let the app restart you in safe mode.

4). When DDU reboots you in Safe Mode, be sure to use the “Options” menu to set the above flag. Select your Nvidia GPU from the drop-down list of options offered by DDU and choose the appropriate result you desire (Clean system and restart, clean system and do not restart, clean system and shutdown).

5). Once your system has restarted, install the standard Nvidia driver that you previously downloaded.

Obviously, some people may not even have noticed the change in the distribution model of Nvidia drivers, or may not care to use the new Microsoft system. If you care, however, there is still a way to download the Nvidia Control Panel from Nvidia and maintain manual control over how and when your drivers are updated.

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