Introduction to Windows XP Hardware Devices and Drivers

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When you install Windows XP, you have to make decisions on basic disk configuration - on what partition you are going to install the operating system and how is that partition going to be formatted. After installation, you can optimize your configuration to take advantage of a number of new features available in Windows XP.

Windows XP Professional supports both basic and dynamic storage, including simple volumes, spanned volumes and striped volumes, which you can configure through Disk Management. Windows XP Home Edition, however, supports only basic storage.

Windows XP has increased Plug and Play support -- hundreds of devices not covered by Windows 2000 are now supported in Windows XP. It also has enhanced support for Universal Serial Bus (USB), IEEE 1394, Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI), and other buses. Plug and Play itself has been improved for Windows XP, making it simpler and friendlier, as well as faster, especially in device installation. The driver models are barely modified from what exists with Windows 2000, but Windows XP has also pulled from the Windows ME models to add Windows Image Acquisition (WIA) assisting with image acquirement from devices such as scanners and digital cameras.

Plug and Play provides the following benefits:
• It will dynamically load, initialize, and unload drivers.

• It will enumerate devices and automatically allocates resources during enumeration.

• It will notify other drivers and applications when a new device is available for use.

• It provides a consistent driver and bus interface for all devices.

• It works with power management to handle insertion and removal of devices without powering down the system

When you need to install a new device, have Windows XP detect and configure it if at all possible. For Plug and Play devices, simply insert the device. For PCI and ISA Plug and Play cards, turn the computer off and then install the device. When the computer restarts, Windows XP should continue with the installation. For older legacy devices, use the Add/Remove Hardware wizard and let Windows XP detect the device.

Deborah Timmons is a Microsoft Certified Trainer and Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer. She came into the Microsoft technical field after six years in the adaptive technology field, providing technology and training for persons with disabilities. She is the President and co-owner of Integrator Systems Inc.

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