Windows Device Manager, Plug and Play

With the advent of plug and play technology, hardware installation is almost like snap of fingers. Windows do it by automatically allocating resources for the device, see below resources allocation:
  1. Interrupt request (IRQ) line numbers.
  2. Direct memory access (DMA) channels
  3. Input/output (I/O) port addresses
  4. Memory address ranges
These are all available in the device manager> device properties > Resources tab.
Every resource must be unique for every device.

If no conflict windows will use its default windows drivers and your plug and play device is ready to go.

Windows Device Manger

Windows default facility for providing information about how the hardware on your computer is installed and configured, and how the hardware interacts with your computer’s Operating System (OS). Device Manger allows computer administrator to install, update, and modify device drivers for installed hardware on your computer. This is also the best place to go for any device driver troubleshooting.

I personally like this facility for giving a good overview of all devices you’ve installed on your computer.

What is Windows Driver?

For my first post, I would like to give a good backgrounder about “Windows Driver”, what is it and why we need it?

Windows Driver Model (WDM) also know as “Win32 Driver Model” – is base structure for device drivers implemented in Windows 98 and Windows 2000 as replacement for VxD, which was the base structure for Windows 95 and Windows 3.1 including Windows NT Driver Model, the earlier windows version.

WDM drivers are well designed to follow device communication hierarchy using I/O (Input/Output) request packets (IRPs), in layman’s term its the piece of codes that tells what electronic devices (ICs, Transistors, capacitors, etc) will do. Remember that it’s a digital communication meaning their communication is just “1” and “0” which can be translated to “Open” and “Close”. Because of Windows different driver structure, compatibility is a major consideration. Below is the basic compatibility table.

Window version Capability
Win 3.1 No
Win NT 4.0 No
Win 95 No
Win 98 Yes
Win ME Yes
Win 98 SE Yes
Win 2000 Yes
Win XP Yes
Win Server 2003 Yes
Win Vista Yes
Win 7 Yes

So our driver now these days are WDM driver and because of its forward compatibility this driver base may be available for next couple of Window version.

All computer equipment needs to communicate to our Window Operation System before it become useful to us. That is the simple reason why Windows driver are also important to us.

So that is concludes our basic Windows driver backgounder.