The Windows operating system generally has no problems supporting new hardware device and software components. Owners can even run modern versions of the OS in compatibility mode. For example, if a PC video game was originally released when Microsoft released Windows XP, but the video game vendor never updated the game afterward, gamers may not be able to play the game on later operating systems. However, owners can use compatibility mode in Windows Vista and Windows 7 to help new hardware devices and software programs work better with the PC.
The biggest hurdle for many PC owners is getting new hardware to connect and show up in the operating system. Many devices require the use of small files, called device drivers, that help Windows recognize the program. In modern versions of Windows, Microsoft includes universal or default device drivers that load the moment you connect a cable between the computer and the hardware device. For example, many inkjet printers do not require the installation of device drivers, if connecting via the USB port.
In the absence of plug and play functionality, the responsibility is on you to add the new device correctly. You can follow a few general steps to make sure installation happens smoothly.
Follow the manufacturer's instruction for physically connecting the hardware device to your PC. If you have to open the tower on your desktop to maybe connect a sound card or graphics card, then you will want to ensure you follow precise instructions. This usually doesn't involve the Windows operating system in the very beginning, because the computer is turned off. However, it is necessary that this process goes smoothly.
If you are connecting via USB, the computer can usually stay on and you can stay logged in to Windows. However, you should still follow manufacturer instructions.
Turn on the computer after you have connected the device. Windows may initially try to recognize the device, by opening a dialog box that prompts you to add a new device. In many instances, you have to exit out of this utility and defer to the software provided by the manufacturer.
Insert the installation CD or DVD into the drive. Begin installing the device driver software in Windows, per the instructions that usually appear on the screen.
Install any additional applications that complement your use of the new hardware device on your Windows PC. For example, if you are connecting a new MP3 player to the PC, you might have a choice of the Windows Media Player or a third-party player.
Restart your computer using the Shut Down options in Windows, if prompted. This helps the operating system store your device settings for later use.
You may have to download updated device drivers that are compatible with your more recent version of Windows.
Sources and Citations
- " Automatically get recommended drivers and updates for your hardware." Microsoft Windows. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2012. <http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/Automatically-get-recommended-drivers-and-updates-for-your-hardware>.
- " Change settings for a Bluetooth enabled device." Microsoft Windows. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2012. <http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/Change-settings-for-a-Bluetooth-enabled-device>.
- " Device management - Windows 7 features - Microsoft Windows." Microsoft Windows. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2012. <http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/products/features/device-management>.
- " Install a USB device." Microsoft Windows. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2012. <http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/Install-a-USB-device>.
- " Install a printer." Microsoft Windows. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2012. <http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/Install-a-printer>.
- " Open the Hardware and Devices troubleshooter." Microsoft Windows. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2012. <http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/Open-the-Hardware-and-Devices-troubleshooter>.
- " Understanding hardware and software for 64-bit versions of Windows." Microsoft Windows. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2012. <http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/understanding-hardware-and-software-for-64-bit-windows>.
- " Update a driver for hardware that isn't working properly." Microsoft Windows. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2012. <http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/Update-a-driver-for-hardware-that-isnt-working-properly>.
- " What to do when a device isn't installed properly." Microsoft Windows. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2012. <http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/What-to-do-when-a-device-isnt-installed-properly>.
- Swenson, John. " Hardware home pages: Master your devices with Device Stage." Microsoft Windows. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2012. <http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/help/hardware-home-pages-master-your-devices-with-device-stage>.