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Device Management Glossary

Applies To: Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2

The following terms are used throughout the documentation on device installation and management. In the context of device management, these terms sometimes have a specialized meaning.

device
Any piece of equipment that can be attached to a network or computer; for example, a printer, joystick, adapter, or modem card, or any other peripheral equipment. A device requires a device driver to function with Windows.

device conflict
A conflict that occurs when the same system resources have been allocated to two or more devices. System resources include interrupt request (IRQ) lines, direct memory access (DMA) channels, input/output (I/O) ports, and memory addresses.

device driver
Software that allows Windows to communicate with a specific hardware device. Before Windows can use any new hardware, a device driver must be installed.

device driver package
The files needed to install and configure a device driver. A device driver package can include an installer program, an .inf file, and a security catalog file, in addition to the actual device driver files.

disable
To make a device nonfunctional. For example, if you disable a device in a hardware configuration, you cannot use the device when your computer uses that hardware configuration. Disabling a device frees the resources that were allocated to the device.

direct memory access (DMA)
Memory access that does not involve the microprocessor. DMA is frequently used for data transfer directly between memory and a peripheral device such as a disk drive.

dock
To connect a portable computer to a docking station.

driver store (or protected driver store)
A secure area of the computer in which Windows places device driver installation packages before they are made operational. All driver packages must be staged in the store as part of the installation process.

enable
To make a device functional. For example, if a device in your hardware configuration settings is enabled, the device is available for use when your computer uses that hardware configuration.

hardware configuration
Resource settings that have been allocated for a specific device. Each device on your computer has a hardware configuration, which may consist of IRQ lines, DMA, an I/O port, or memory address settings.

input/output (I/O) port
A channel through which data is transferred between a device and the microprocessor. The port appears to the microprocessor as one or more memory addresses that it can use to send or receive data.

install
When referring to hardware, to physically connect the device to your computer, to load device drivers onto your computer, and to configure device properties and settings.

interrupt
A request for attention from the processor. When the processor receives an interrupt, it suspends its current operations, saves the status of its work, and transfers control to a special routine known as an interrupt handler, which contains the instructions for dealing with the particular situation that caused the interrupt.

interrupt request (IRQ)
A signal sent by a device to get the attention of the processor when the device is ready to accept or send information. Each device sends its interrupt requests over a specific hardware line. Each device must be assigned a unique IRQ number.

local computer
The computer that you are currently logged on to as a user. More generally, a local computer is a computer that you can access directly without using a communications line or a communications device, such as a network adapter or a modem.

memory address
A portion of computer memory that can be allocated to a device or used by a program or the operating system. Devices are usually allocated a range of memory addresses.

non-Plug and Play
A device, such as a printer, modem, or game controller, that requires manual configuration of hardware settings before it can be used. Non-Plug and Play devices are becoming increasingly rare as manufacturers stop producing them in favor of Plug and Play devices. The term Non-Plug and Play typically applies to older pieces of equipment.

peripheral connection interface (PCI)
A specification introduced by Intel Corporation that defines a local bus system that allows up to 10 PCI-compliant expansion cards to be installed in the computer.

Plug and Play
A set of specifications developed by Intel Corporation that allows a computer to automatically detect and configure a device and install the appropriate device drivers.

port
A connection point on your computer where you can connect devices that pass data into and out of a computer.

remote computer
A computer that you can access only by using a communications line or a communications device, such as a network card or a modem.

resources
Generally, any part of a computer system or network, such as a disk drive, printer, or memory, that can be allocated to a running program or a process.

For device management, any of four system components that control how the devices on a computer work. These four system resources are interrupt request (IRQ) lines, direct memory access (DMA) channels, input/output (I/O) ports, and memory addresses.

staging
The process of putting a device driver into a driver store so that it can then be installed. All packages must be staged before they can be installed. Only an administrator or user account that has appropriate delegated permissions can place a device driver in the store. Windows checks a device driver for a valid signature during driver staging.

undock
To detach a portable computer from a docking station.

uninstall
When referring to software, the act of removing program files and folders from your hard disk and removing related data from your registry so the software is no longer available.

When referring to a device, the act of removing the corresponding device drivers from your hard disk and physically removing the device from your computer.

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