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Device Manager and Hardware Wizards

Published: August 06, 2004

(Note: This topic describes not just Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2, but also Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 3.)

On This Page

Benefits and Purposes of Device Manager
Overview: Using Device Manager in a Managed Environment
How Hardware Wizards Communicate with Sites on the Internet
Controlling Hardware Wizards to Limit the Flow of Information to and from the Internet
Procedures for Controlling Communication Between Hardware Wizards and Windows Update

Device Manager provides an interface for viewing the configuration of hardware devices, and the wizards help with installing and configuring the correct driver for a device. Therefore, this section describes how the wizards communicate with the Internet, while providing background about Device Manager.

Benefits and Purposes of Device Manager

Device Manager provides users and administrators with information about how the hardware on their computers is installed and configured, and how the hardware interacts with the computer’s applications. With Device Manager, administrators can update the drivers (or software) for hardware devices, modify hardware settings, and troubleshoot problems.

Note   Only administrators or users with administrative credentials can install or update device drivers.

Overview: Using Device Manager in a Managed Environment

Administrators can access Device Manager through Administrative Tools\Computer Management. Users can access Device Manager through Control Panel\System\Hardware to view information about the hardware installed on their computers, but they must have administrative credentials to modify or update hardware.

Administrators or users with administrative credentials will typically use Device Manager to check the status of hardware and to update device drivers. Administrators who have a thorough understanding of computer hardware might also use Device Manager's diagnostic features to resolve device conflicts and change resource settings.

Device Manager can work in conjunction with hardware wizards and Windows Update to deliver updated drivers for installed hardware. On a computer running Windows XP with SP2, when a driver is being upgraded, the person at the computer is prompted to find out whether to search the Windows Update Web site for an appropriate device driver. The same prompt is displayed if the person has attached a new Plug and Play device for which the driver is not included as part of Windows XP with SP2. As an administrator, you can prevent this, if you choose, by using Control Panel or Group Policy. The following subsection provides details about how hardware wizards interact with the Internet.

How Hardware Wizards Communicate with Sites on the Internet

Hardware wizards search for device drivers in slightly different ways, depending on the type of device for which a driver is needed:

  • An existing device for which a new device driver is available.

    To update a device driver, a person logged on to Windows XP as an administrator opens Device Manager, selects a hardware device, and clicks Update Driver on the Action menu. Alternatively, the person can open Device Manager, right-click a hardware device, and click Update Driver. This activates the Hardware Update Wizard. If Windows Update device driver searching has not been disabled, by default, the Hardware Update Wizard prompts the person to find out whether to search the Windows Update Web site for an updated device driver.

  • A new Plug and Play device for which the driver is not included as part of Windows XP with SP2.

    To install a new Plug and Play device, a person logged on to Windows XP as an administrator first attaches the device. In some instances, Windows XP then finds the appropriate driver locally and installs it without input from the user. In other instances, Windows XP cannot find an appropriate driver locally, and the Found New Hardware Wizard starts. If Windows Update device driver searching has not been disabled, by default, the Found New Hardware Wizard prompts the person to find out whether to search the Windows Update Web site for an updated device driver.

  • A device that is not Plug and Play.

    After a person logged on to Windows XP as an administrator attaches a device that is not Plug and Play, he or she can use Add Hardware in Control Panel to start the Add Hardware Wizard. This wizard does not connect to the Internet for device drivers.

When the person at the computer responds to a prompt by agreeing to the Internet search for a device driver, the Hardware Update Wizard or Found New Hardware Wizard communicate with the Windows Update Web site. Therefore, much of the information in this subsection is the same as for Windows Update. Additional details are as follows:

  • Specific information sent or received: See the section “Windows Update and Automatic Updates” in this white paper. None of the communication between the computer and the Internet uniquely identifies the user.

  • Default settings: By default, the hardware wizards prompt to find out whether to search Windows Update for a device driver.

  • Triggers: A person logged on as an administrator starts the Hardware Update Wizard, or adds a new Plug and Play device for which Windows XP cannot find an appropriate driver locally.

  • User notification: By default, when the Hardware Update Wizard is started, it asks whether to search Windows Update for the device driver, and offers the following choices:

    • Yes, this time only

    • Yes , now and every time I connect a device

    • No, not this time

    Choosing the second choice, Yes, now and every time I connect a device, causes the Hardware Update Wizard to stop offering the preceding three prompts, but these prompts can be restored through System Properties (in Control Panel). To restore the three prompts, in System Properties, click the Hardware tab, click the Windows Update button, and choose Ask me to search Windows Update every time I connect a new device,

    To use System Properties to turn off Windows Update Device Driver searching, see “Procedures for Controlling How Drivers Are Updated Through Device Manager,” later in this section.

  • Logging: Errors that result from problems installing hardware devices without drivers are logged to the event log.

  • Encryption, access, privacy, transmission protocol, and port: See the section “Windows Update and Automatic Updates” in this white paper. To view the privacy statement for Windows Update, go to the Web site and click Read our privacy statement:

    http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com/

  • Ability to disable: You cannot disable Device Manager, but you can use Control Panel or Group Policy to prevent hardware wizards from searching for drivers on Windows Update. Alternatively, you can turn off all access to Windows Update.

Controlling Hardware Wizards to Limit the Flow of Information to and from the Internet

To prevent hardware wizards from searching Windows Update for device drivers, you can use either Control Panel or Group Policy. You can also turn off all access to Windows Update by using Group Policy.

If you turn off all access to Windows Update, users will still be able to use Device Manager to view information about their hardware devices. For administrators to be able to update drivers there is the option for manually downloading driver updates from the Windows Update Catalog, or from an intranet server, whereby they can be distributed on your managed network as needed.

For more information about the Windows Update Catalog, see the Windows Update Web site at:

http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com/

Procedures for Controlling Communication Between Hardware Wizards and Windows Update

The procedures for turning off Windows Update device driver searching by using either Control Panel or Group Policy are included here. When you turn off Windows Update device driver searching, Windows XP does not search the Windows Update Web site for device drivers, regardless of any action taken through Device Manager or the hardware wizards.

For the procedure to turn off all access to Windows Update or configure automatic updating, see the section “Windows Update and Automatic Updates” in this white paper.

To Turn Off Windows Update Device Driver Searching by Using Control Panel

  1. Click Start, and then either click Control Panel, or point to Settings and then click Control Panel.

  2. Double-click System.

  3. In System Properties, click the Hardware tab.

  4. Click Windows Update.

  5. Click Never search Windows Update for drivers.

To Turn Off Windows Update Device Driver Searching by Using Group Policy

  1. See Appendix B, "Learning About Group Policy and Updating Administrative Templates,” for information about using Group Policy. Ensure that your Administrative templates have been updated, and then edit an appropriate GPO.

  2. Click Computer Configuration, click Administrative Templates, click System, click Internet Communication Management, and then click Internet Communication settings.

  3. In the details pane, double-click Turn off Windows Update device driver searching, and then click Enabled.

    Important   You can also restrict Internet access for this and a number of other components by applying the Restrict Internet communication policy setting, which is located in Computer Configuration/Administrative Templates/System/Internet Communication Management. For more information about this Group Policy and the policies that it controls, see Appendix C, "Group Policy Settings Listed Under the Internet Communication Management Key."

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