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Working with Your Devices

Updated: January 7, 2010

Applies To: Windows 7

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Windows® 7 introduces a whole new way to work with devices: Device Stage. Device Stage can make it easier for you to visualize and use your devices, including unique features, information, and services that they provide. In this article, we’ll describe Device Stage and how it can make working with devices easier for yourself, your friends, and your family.

noteNote
For a complete view of Windows 7 resources, articles, demos, and guidance, please visit the Springboard Series for Windows 7 on the Windows Client TechCenter.

For a downloadable version of this document, see the Working with Your Devices in the Microsoft Download Center (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=180721).

New Device Experiences

In earlier versions of Windows, devices often gave inconsistent experiences, and you had to look in different locations to perform different tasks. For instance, a multifunction printer would install as separate devices: a printer, a scanner, a fax, removable disks, and vendor-specific management programs to tie them all together. The fax feature of the multifunction printer was often in a different location than the scanning feature. The process for installing and interacting with devices was inconsistent among manufacturers and even among different products from the same manufacturer.

Device Stage, shown in Figure 1, is a new visual interface in Windows 7. This interface can help to alleviate these issues by treating the connected device as a whole with multiple abilities and attributes. Device Stage can help you find and do all of the things that make your devices great. This feature gives you the status of the mobile phones, portable media players, digital cameras, and multifunction printers that connect to your computer, and it allows you to perform tasks that are unique to each device—all from a single window.

 

Device stage menu

Figure 1. Device Stage

Device Stage is like a Start menu for your devices. The interface displays photorealistic pictures of supported devices, similar to album art in Windows Media® Player. To experience Device Stage on your own computer, click Start, Devices and Printers.

This Device Stage experience also extends to the new Windows 7 taskbar. When you connect a supported device to the computer, the taskbar displays a photo-realistic icon of the device (rather than a generic icon). The icon also has a Jump List with device-specific tasks. So, you can do many of the things that you want to do with the device, directly from the taskbar as well as from the Device Stage interface.

Devices Listed in Device Stage

Other than your computer, which Device Stage always displays, the interface displays external devices that you can connect to your computer through a port (USB or Bluetooth) or network connection:

  • Portable devices such as mobile phones, portable music players, and digital cameras

  • USB devices such as external USB hard drives, flash disks, webcams, keyboards, and mice

  • Printers that you connect through a USB cable, the network, or wirelessly

  • Bluetooth devices and wireless USB devices

  • Compatible network devices such as scanners, media extenders, or Network Attached Storage

On the whole, the devices that you see in Device Stage are the devices with which you want to interact: cameras, mobile phones, scanners, and so on. The devices that you don’t see in Device Stage are the ones with which you don’t interact, such as hard disks, video cards, RAM, and so on. However, you can still manage these devices by using Device Manager. Just click Start, type device manager, and click Device Manager.

Custom Device Experiences

You can open a device in its own Device Stage window. Some devices provide a custom experience that is specific to that particular device, as shown in Figure 2; all devices provide a baseline experience that is common to all devices in the same category. Device Stage windows have the same structure for every device, retaining a broad Windows look and feel. However, the device manufacturer creates the contents of custom windows so that you’ll have access to the features of your specific device.

 

Custom device experience window

Figure 2. Custom Device Stage experience

Conclusion

In Windows 7, Device Stage offers a single, consistent visual interface for the devices you use the most. The thing we like best about Device Stage is that our friends and family don’t have an endless array of vendor-specific software to learn to get the most out of their favorite devices. Device Stage provides them one experience to learn and one place to look for it. Additionally, they’re more likely to fully use those devices now that they can discover advanced features more easily. Just tell your friends and family to click Start, Devices and Printers. They can figure out the rest on their own.

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