DEVICES AND DRIVERS
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The main utility for managing hardware devices and drivers
is the Device Manager. The Device Manager can be
started by either clicking the Device Manager button
on the Hardware tab of the System Properties,
or by selecting Device Manager in the Computer
Device Manager provides information about the hardware installed
on the computer. It also allows you to update the device drivers,
modify hardware settings, and troubleshoot problems such as
resource conflicts. For more information about Device Manager
and its options, check out the following two pages:
of Device Manager in Windows 2000 and Windows XP
to Configure Device Manager to Display Detailed Information
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There are too many options and settings related to "Display
Devices" to cover them all in these TechNotes, so we
are going to cover only the basics and the essentials for
The video adapter and monitor settings can be altered on the
Display Properties. The Display Properties
can be accessed by either the Display control panel
applet, or right-clicking the desktop and clicking Properties,
and has the following five tabs:
- Themes - Allows you to personalize
your computer by choosing a theme. A theme includes a background,
icons, sounds, and other bells and whistles.
- Desktop - Allows you to configure
a background or color for the desktop. When you click the
Customize Desktop button, you'll be able to add/remove/change
common desktop icons such as Internet Explorer and My Documents.
On this tab, the Desktop Cleanup wizard can also be enabled
to run every 60 days. Or click the Clean Desktop Wizard
to run it immediately. Click the Web tab on the
Desktop Items dialog box to configure Windows XP
to display a web page on the desktop.
- Screen Saver - Allows you to
configure a screen saver and protect it with a password.
The Power button opens the Power Option
dialog box to configure power saving setting for the monitor.
Power options will be discussed in more detail later in
- Appearance - Allows you to change
the appearance of Windows items such as buttons, dialog
boxes, etc. by choosing a style, changing the colors, or
choosing different fonts. The Effects button opens
a dialog box for more bells and whistles than can be used
to change the appearance of Windows XP. A mentionable option
is the Use the following options to smooth the edges
of screen fonts. Setting this to ClearType
will significantly improve reading text on an LCD display.
- Settings - The Settings
tab is displayed below:
Although the Screen resolution and
Color quality (also known as Color depth) can be
configured on the Settings tab, this is often done
using the Advanced properties to attain the best
A video adapter is required to install Windows XP, hence is
often already installed during Setup. In many situations however,
you want to install an updated driver for the video adapter.
To install an updated or third-party driver click the Advanced
button on the Settings tab of the Display Properties,
and then click Properties on the Adapter
tab. This will open the display adapter's Properties,
which can also be accessed from Device Manager. Click
the Update Driver button on the Driver tab
to start the Hardware Update wizard, which allows
you to install a new driver. Windows XP supports up to 10
displays to be used simultaneously, which requires multiple
PCI or AGP video adapters.
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Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI)
is an interface for the system board that allows power management
for hardware, the OS, and applications. In an ACPI computer
the operating system configures and monitors the computer,
not the BIOS hardware settings. The operating system ensures
power is only used for devices used by active applications,
allowing you to save power on a laptop for example. ACPI is
usually installed during Windows Setup, but if some components
such as ISA devices or older BIOS's that do not support ACPI
are present, a non-ACPI Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL) will
be installed instead.
To change power settings that take advantage
of ACPI, use the Power Options control panel applet.
If the computer does not support ACPI, the Power Options
properties may have an APM tab. APM is short for Advanced
Power Management, and is limited compared to ACPI. ACPI is
essential to take full advantage of power management and Plug
and Play in Windows. If you want to use ACPI you may need
to update the BIOS and/or remove non-compliant devices, and
perform an in-place upgrade. This means you need
to re-install Windows XP over the current installation (i.e.
upgrade) to replace the non-ACPI HAL (Hardware Abstraction
Layer) with the HAL that supports ACPI.
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Usually you don't need to configure the keyboard because it
is required to install Windows XP and it is configured during
setup. If the keyboard is not correctly installed, or you
need to replace the device driver for the keyboard, you can
use the Keyboard control panel applet or the Device
Manager to update the driver. The Keyboard control
panel applet also allows you to set the Repeat delay,
Repeat rate, and Cursor blink rate. If you
need to change the layout of the keyboard, i.e. from UK to
US International, you will need to use the Regional Options
control panel applet, which is described in more detail in
Pointing devices such as a mouse, trackball, or touch pad,
are usually configured using the Mouse control panel
applet. The tabs and settings of the Mouse Properties
often depend on the manufacturer of the mouse driver installed.
Note that the terms cursor and pointer are interchangeable
in the context of pointing devices. Some of the common mouse
- Cursor Speed and Acceleration
- SnapTo, moves the cursor to the default
button (i.e. the OK button)
- Cursor Trails, typically useful for older
- Pointer Scheme, allows different themes
- Button Assignments.
Installing USB devices is generally a simple task because
they support Plug-and-Play. Many different types of devices
use an USB connection, examples include keyboards, pointing
devices, game controllers, printers, cameras, and remote storage
devices. The Device Manager lists the USB controllers
and root hubs under Universal Serial Bus controllers.
If these are not listed, you may need to enable USB in the
BIOS or even update the BIOS.
Network Interface Cards (NICs) are used to connect a computer
to a network. In case of a wired network it connects to the
network cable segment, and in wireless networks it will have
an antenna built-in, or attached. Today's NICs are usually
plug-and-play PCI cards, or PCMCIA for laptops. You can configure
a network card by using the Network Connections applet
in the control panel or the Device Manager.
Modems provide remote access through dial-up connections,
converting analog data to digital and vice versa. Modems are
either internal or external. The latter is connected to a
serial port on the computer whereas internal modems are usually
PCI, and in some cases, older ISA expansion boards. Modems
are usually detected during setup, or during startup in case
a modem is installed or attached after setup. If your modem
is not detected, you should try running the Add Hardware
wizard or use the manufacturer's software to install
the drivers. Modems can also be added, removed, and configured
also by using the Phone and Modem Options applet
in the control panel.
Wireless network cards are becoming more common every day.
Modern PCI, USB, and PCMCIA wireless NICs support plug and
play, hence are detected and installed automatically. Configuring
a wireless network card for proper communication usually requires
the following minimal settings that can be configured on the
Advanced tab of the NIC's Properties in Device Manager:
- SSID (Service Set Identifier) -
Can be thought of as a Windows workgroup name and should
be the same for all clients and access points.
- Channel - Allows you to manually
set the channel for Ad-hoc networks.
- Network Type - Windows XP supports
both Ad-hoc and Infrastructure mode for wireless networks.
Ah-hoc wireless networks are peer-to-peer; there are no
access points (APs) in the network, hence clients communicate
directly with each other. In wireless networks running in
Infrastructure mode, one or more APs form the center of
the network acting like a hub/intermediate between the clients.
The network type option can also be set to automatic.
- Power Save Mode, most wireless
NICs support CAM, Fast_PSP, and Max_PSP. On laptops you
should use one of the latter two to save power.
Smartcard and readers
Smartcard readers typically connect to either a USB port or
a PCMCIA slot, hence are usually installed by Plug and Play.
Windows XP includes drivers for most popular smartcard equipment,
but you should always check the manufacturer's site for updated
software. When the smartcard reader is installed successfully,
you can configure Windows XP to require a smartcard for logon
and individual network connections. Users do not need to press
CTRL+ALT+DEL to log on to a computer when using a smart card.
Instead, the smart card is inserted into the reader, and users
are prompted for a PIN instead of a user name and password.
Windows XP offers a security policy setting that can be used
to define the action that should be taken when a smartcard
is removed from a system. Possible actions are: No Action,
Lock Workstation, and Force Logoff.
IrDA (Infrared Data Association) is a type of serial
communication that allows half-duplex wireless data transmission
from 115.2 Kbps (Serial IR) up to 4.0 Mbps (Fast IrDA) and
16.0 Mbps (Very Fast IrDA). It is typically
used to communicate with hand held devices and printers. Infrared
interfaces are either internal such as on PDAs and laptops,
or external such as those connected to an USB or COM port.
Internal IrDA interfaces should be detected and automatically
installed during Setup or when a computer starts. If you need
to manually install an internal IrDA interface that isn't
automatically detected, or an external IrDA interface connected
to a COM port, you need to use the Add Hardware Wizard
and select the manufacturer from the list or provide a driver
To establish a direct infrared network connection between
computers, create an Advanced connection in Network
Connections, choose Connect directly to another computer,
and configure the computer as either Guest or Host.
The computer that hosts information that will be accessed
by another computer should be configured as Host. The computer
used to access information on the host computer, should be
configured as Guest. In the Advanced connection properties
choose the Infrared port as the Device for this connection
on the host, and on the quest select the InfraRed port at
Select a device.
In many situations you don't need to configure a network connection,
e.g. when transferring information between a PC and a PDA
or printer. You would only need to align your devices to make
sure the infrared transceivers are pointing at each other
and are within the maximum range. When the devices are correctly
aligned, an infrared icon appears in the System Tray of the
Task Bar, informing you the connection is established.
Scanners and Cameras
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Most modern scanners and cameras support plug and play. When
you add such a camera or scanner, the Scanner and Camera
Wizard will start automatically. You can add a scanner
or camera manually by using the Scanners and Cameras
control panel applet.
By default, pictures from a scanner or camera are placed in
the My Pictures folder. When a camera is connected and turned
on it should appear in My Computer under Imaging Devices.
This allows the camera, the memory card in it, to be treated
as a remote storage devices and for example, drag and drop
files from and to it.
Hand Held Devices
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held devices, such as PDA's, MP3 players, and GPS devices,
are usually equipped with a USB or wireless interface (i.e.
802.11b, Bluetooth, InfraRed) and are therefore easy to install.
Most hand held devices come with their own software to set
up a connection to a PC and synchronize data.
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is a feature that is used to control file replacement during
Windows XP Setup and installation of drivers and other software.
All files from Microsoft include a digital signature to ensure
the integrity of the file. Driver Signing options can be configured
by clicking the Driver Signing button on the Hardware
tab of the System Properties.
Following are the available options
on the Driver Signing Options dialog box:
- Ignore: This will
install all files, with or without a digital signature.
- Warn: Displays a
warning message before an attempt is made to install an
- Block: Prevents
installation of unsigned files.
You can mark the checkbox
Make this action the system default to ensure the same
driver signing options apply for all users.
Use the System File Checker
(SFC.EXE) command-line utility to scan all protected files
and check the Digital Signatures. The System File Checker
also can be used to schedule scanning of protected files on
boot. The File Signature Verification, SIGVERIF.EXE,
is another Windows utility that can be used to check the system
for unsigned system files.
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Windows XP Professional supports Symmetric
Multi-Processing (SMP) with a maximum of two CPUs. To turn
a uni-processor into a multi-processor computer, use Device
Manager to update the driver of the Computer
component after you physically installed the second CPU.