Intel Support Assistant - A mixed blessing?

This is not brand new though it is relatively recent (mid 2020 I think).

I have very mixed feelings about this.

On the one hand, a large number of systems from the OEMS are at their core fairly standard systems with intel sourced motherboards (with associated integrated graphics) , Wi-Fi adapters and to a lesser degree SSDs and other items.

And at least to date. for several of our customers it has been a much better source for up to date drivers. Especially for less consumer/mainstream OEMS but now with the move to Windows 11, for even the big guys that have yet to fully certify (or whatever they actaully do ) all of the various drivers etc. for their systems.

One specific example we came across recently was with a customer that had several 2018-2019 Specter X360 systems. After updating to Windows 11 via software update, they exhibited an odd bug where the user would intermittently experience blank/dark displays.

Unfortunately, this bug looked like the rebirth of an old hardware issue that plagued a bunch of earlier Spectres and Envys, that was a genuine heat related, long term hardware failure that required the replacement of the motherboard to resolve.

The customer had experienced that exact issue and paid to replace the motherboard on several systems. Of course, that wasn’t a trivial expense, and the customer was already not really happy.

So fast forward to now and the customer again experienced what looked like the same issue. Fortunately? this time the systems in question were still in warranty and so the customer sent them in for repair.

HP replaced the motherboards on the systems and returned them to the customer, but within a couple of days, the problem came right back. HP was baffled and had the customer a bunch of trouble shooting steps including completely clean re-loads of Windows 11, but without success.

Fortunately, one of the customers techs, who also assists in QA with his company website, and thus uses multiple web browsers, and essentially stumbled on the fact that the issue only occurs with the installation and active use of multiple web browsers. In other words, if you ONLY use Edge, or ONLY use Chrome for all web browsing, you won’t see this, but if you run both, within a few minutes the problem appears.

When the tech contacted HP with what he discovered, HP was surprised, but then had him do/repeat a long series of troubleshooting steps including reinstallation of the certified system drivers, again without success.

However, the tech in question also had one of the X360 systems as a personal device and came across Intel Support Assistant. So when he ran the INTEL tool, it suggested he update his integrated graphics drivers as well as some “system” drivers **EVEN THOUGH HP’S own support assistant tools showed no available updates ** .

He installed them anyway on his own system and lo and behold, it appeared to fix the issue, He then did the same thing on his work provided system with the same results. So in other words, it’s likely was an older intel Graphics driver bug…

But when he contacted HP to share his results he was basically dismissed and even told that "he was on his own as they couldn’t support uncertified drivers. Even though these were drivers released by Intel that is the source of the motherboard and WIFI boards in the systems in question.

So TLDR, the net of all this is that the customer is now looking for a new primary vendor for their systems and HP IS NOT even an option.

So, to wrap up what is once again a long post, this seems to be a good tool for your own use but be aware that you might be “on your own” if you use it and then need support.

And my point is that something is broken in the support systems of the big guys IMHO :frowning:

EDIT: Forgot the link…
Intel® Driver & Support Assistant

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OK, now I have to keep reading, because that’s exactly what I’ve been seeing in the past months.

Edit: thanks for all that and for the link. I’ll keep an eye on Lenovo Vantage to see if they come out with anything, and if it keeps being a nuisance, I can try the Support Assistant.

@JoeS Thanks for that. I would be curious what your results are either way. The support person I talked about has replicated both the problem and now the fix on the 12 X360 systems they have.

And FWIW, seems like it was a significant miss on MS part during the betas of Windows 11 that they didn’t catch it, though I will admit it’s a strange bug.

That also gives more evidence to my belief that most folks install whatever is their preferred browser and call it a day and don’t use other ones.

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@Desertlap : An interesting tale. For what it’s worth (Wait. Did I actually spell that out?), I know that some OEMs make alterations to and / or test for compatibility the “official” Intel software products before releasing them through their own update channels. So when HP called the drivers “uncertified,” they could be technically correct. In my experience, Dell was another company that seemed to like to twiddle with updates before releasing them as “their own.”

Another amusing aspect of your story is that my HP ZBook X2 has an “HP Support Assistant” applet, which has proven to be a very helpful aid in keeping my X2 updated. Interesting to think that HP would bristle at Intel having one, too…!

@SteveS Yeah that is a somewhat opaque thing that several of the vendors do which is to modify the “official” reference drivers because of tweaks they make to their hardware via firmware, the worst/most notable with HP was with 8th gen core I where they partially disabled the graphics cache and on the WIIFI cards disabled some authentication protocols used with some of the less used WIFI standards such as 802.a. Including notoriously in Russia where they dumbed down some of the encryption.

There is far less of that these days as for the most part it’s both easier and cheaper just to follow the reference design, but it still does happen especially with gaming laptops.

Our advice to the customers is always go with the vendor supplied drivers, but obviously in this case that wasn’t the best option

I avoided it on the Samsung Ativ Book 8 because upgrading the Intel driver always broke the brightness control, that required a ritual to get working again (usually). Well, I had it installed, but just to see if any updates came along.

On the Galaxy Book 10.6 I didn’t have it installed as having tried it before, the newer Intel drivers seemed to make the system unstable. But on my latest reset, I went with it, and things seem fine so far.