Windows 7 allows for simplifief installation of external hardware devices and the drivers to support them.
Adapted from “Microsoft Windows 7 Administrator’s Reference” (Syngress, an imprint of Elsevier)
Windows 7 gives you several tools and utilities for configuring and managing hardware devices and printers. You have several options for configuring devices and installing the necessary drivers, which is important, because without the proper drivers and the proper configuration, your devices won’t function properly.
Installing hardware devices and drivers is much simpler in Windows 7 than in previous versions of Windows. You can install several different types of hardware devices on Windows 7 computers:
Windows 7 automatically detects any hardware recently installed and attempts to automatically install the driver. After Windows 7 setup is complete, if some drivers weren’t installed by default, Windows 7 will attempt to find the device and its respective driver. The OS does this through Windows Update.
Windows 7 detects hardware that wasn’t automatically installed with Windows 7 setup. Most of the time, this will happen if the Windows 7 media didn’t include the driver for that piece of hardware. The built-in hardware diagnostics generally detect whether hardware installed on the computer has the proper drivers installed. The OS will attempt to identify the hardware, then use Windows Update to search for the correct driver. Windows Update will automatically download the driver, but won’t install it automatically.
You can open Windows Update in any of the following ways to check for new drivers or updated drivers:
Essential drivers for video, sound or hard disk controllers may appear as important updates. Other device drivers will appear in the optional updates section. Click the link on the main Windows Update console titled “[X] optional updates are available.”
By default, optional updates won’t be selected for installation. Check the box to the left of each driver you wish to install, then click OK to download and install the update. Once the driver is installed, Windows will automatically detect and install the hardware device.
Device Manager is the central location from which to view, configure and manage hardware devices. It’s critical to understand how Device Manager works before working on hardware devices. There are multiple ways to open Device Manager:
Notice that Device Manager is a Microsoft Management Console (MMC) 3.0 console. The process for expanding the device view is similar to any other MMC 3.0 console. Simply click the arrow to the left of the device to expand the node. Devices with issues are displayed with a small symbol next to the device icon. A red X indicates the device isn’t installed correctly or has been disabled. A yellow exclamation point indicates a problem with the device.
To change the view, select View on the Menu bar, then choose from the following options:
The Devices and Printers applet lets you configure devices and printers attached to your system. You can configure device properties, your default printer and many other settings. The Devices and Printers applet lets you add a device or add a printer:
There are two sections in the applet: “Devices” and “Printers and Faxes.” You’ll use the Devices section to configure devices attached to the system. The system has a biometric coprocessor and an integrated camera. There’s also a device listed representing the system itself. If you select the device representing the system, you get two device options:
The Printers and Faxes section contains all the printers connected to the system. You can configure printer properties and select your default printer. If you select one of the printers you’ve already configured, you get four options:
Again, it’s a good idea to become thoroughly familiar with Device Manager. You’ll need to know how to use it to add, remove and configure devices and their drivers. This is an essential part of Windows 7 management.