Copyright Michael Karbo, Denmark, Europe.
Chapter 16. New hardware
As pc owner you can get in the situation that you need to add new hardware. That can be a new harddisk, a digital camera or something else. This operation often involves Windows, which uses drivers.
The drivers are small support programs, which have to be read for each new hardware unit. And with new hardware new drivers are often needed.
In this chapter I will explain, how the drivers work. That also gives you a chance to look closer at Windows Control Panel and how Windows handles hardware. Finally I give a practical exemple on reading a driver to a new hardware unit, which you connect to the pc.
Units and drivers
There are numerous ways to upgrade the pc, and it is often a very simple operation, but in other situations it can be a bit more complicated. Typical devices that you might need to install are:
If you install a new harddisk or a new CD drive (such as a burner), then the most difficult is actually to connect the cables correctly inside the pc. Windows XP will usually recognize the new drive right away; as if a driver was already installed. The same holds true if you for example get a new keyboard. But for many other devices you need to ”feed” Windows XP with the right driver.
The task is to install the mentioned driver, which enables Windows XP to recognize and use the new peripheral. For example Windows needs to know that a new soundcard has been installed, and what it can be used for. The driver supplies that information.
So a driver is a small software item, which is read into Windows XP. The driver then so to speak builds a bridge between the operating system and the hardware unit.
Figure 71. All hardware is controlled by drivers.
There is good reason to dwell on driver updating. For one reason you can utilize the pc’s hardware better with the correct drivers. And partly because you often need to install drivers yourself to make the hardware unit to work at all.
For every new af Windows generation there is a need for new drivers, since the old no longer work. So when Windows XP was marketed, the hardware manufacturers suddenly had to develop new drivers for all their pc products. As users we are completely dependent on these drivers, and we often have to acquire them ourselves. The same is the case if you buy a newly developed hardware unit (such as a brand new scanner) – then you need to be sure that it includes an XP driver.
Lots of drivers in Windows XP
All hardware units – new as well as old – are controlled by drivers. This means that you already have installed lots of drivers in your pc with Windows XP. If you are interested, you can actually see them. Try this:
1. Open Windows Control Panel (by using the Start menu). Now you need to change the view to ”classic view.” Click here:
2. The control panel has a number of special tools, which are used to change the way Windows appears and behaves. Try to look through the list for yourself.
3. You can read an explanatory text at each tool. You can see some of the tools in Figure 72.
4. Double click on the System tool:
5. That opens the dialog box ”properties for system”. Select the Hardware tab, and click on the Unit handling button:
6. Now the dialog box Unit handling opens. Let us take as closer look at that.
Figure 72. A selection of the tools in the ckontrol panel.e dialog box Unit handling
When you install Windows XP on a pc, it is done with an installation program.
The installation program analyses the pc’s composition of different hardware units, and the operation make take a long time (often 30-40 minutes). Windows needs to identify each hardware unit in the pc.
When the analysis is complete, the drivers for all the hardware units found are opened automatically. Only then can Windows work.
You can see all the units and their drivers for yourself; follow this review if you are technically interested:
You have the dialog box Unit handling on your screen. You see a ”tree”, which starts on top with the name of the pc. My pc is named AMD900, and below this name you see the list with units:
1. Your list may look a little different, but let us now look closer at one particular unit.
2. Find the item disk drives and click on the small plus symbol. That changes to a minus symbol, and the list expands. You can now see which harddisks are installed:
3. There are two harddisks on my pc, and I see their brand names; the first is named Maxtor, the other WDC.
4. You can doubleclick on your harddisk to see its properties. On the Driver tab you can find information about the driver that controls the harddisk:
5. A click on the Driver details button… brings you even “closer” to the driver. Now you can actually read the names of the files that are included in the driver:
6. Click on the OK button and on OK again, to close the two dialog boxes.
7. Try to ckeck your own CD drives. Here is how mine look:
8. If you have installed a CD burner yourself, then you should see it in the in listen of units. If it is not found there, it is guaranteed not to work!
9. The System tool, and especially the Unit handling dialog box is quite central to control hardware. If you have some unit that does not work properly, then you can check the list. If you see a yellow warning message by the unit, then the driver is surely not installed. That is the case here; this unit does not work (but it is going to):
10. USB units (typically digital camera and scanner) are not always included in the Unit handling list. But if a USB unit does not work, you will get a warning in in the message area of the task bar. Then it is up to you to install the driver:
Add a driver
When you add a new hardware unit to th pc, Windows XP needs to be updated; a driver fitting the unit has to be installed. That can be accomplished in different ways:
Automatically. Windows XP installs the driver without you noticing it. I have experienced that with a net card; XP ”recognized” automatic ally the new card and installed the driver for it during start-up. And it worked right away. Unfortunately it is not always that easy …
Semi automatically. Windows XP discovers the new unit and asks you to install the driver. In my experience I most often encounter the semiautomatic installation.
You often need to check that the driver is present, so it can be installed. But how do you get the right driver? There are different possibilities:
Of course the easiest is if the driver is already in Windows XP. But you can not count on that, since, as I said, new hardware is continually marketed.
When a CD-ROM or a diskette comes with a hardware product, it is very easy to install the driver when Windows asks for it.
Since new and improved driver versions are often offered to much hardware, it is also a good idea to check the manufacturer’s home pages for new drivers. That is especially true for screen cards and sound cards; there you ought to have the newest drivers installed.
A hardware unit often works much better with a new and updated driver. And you need to get that directly from the manufacturer’s home page. That is not difficult at all, so I encourage you to have your drivers updated. The only requirements are Internet access and that you know the brand name and the number of your hardware unit.
Driver for new hardware
In this part I will show how I install a driver that I retrieved from the net. That is a driver for my digital camera, wich needs to be connected directly to my Windows XP-pc.
Even if you do not have the same camera, you can still learn something from the review. It is a quite ordinary procedure to install a driver that I get from the Internet.
When Microsoft introduced Windows XP, they promised extensive support for digital cameras. You just had to conect the camera to the pc, and then it should work. But it is not always that easy …
1. I start by connecting the camera to the pc with the small USB cable that comes with the camera.
2. Windows XP recognizes right away that the camera is connected. That sounds promising:
3. When I click on the small message, the guide ”New hardware found” starts. It will help with the driver installation:
4. The guide suggests that the software be installed automatically, so I try that by clicking on the Next button. Nothing comes out of that; Windows XP can not find a driver that matches the camera.
5. I turn the camera off and go on the net and find Canons home page. There I select Software Center (on other companies home pages the area is called Download). There I find a menu item called Digital Cameras.
6. Then I select my camera model and ask for software to Windows XP:
7. Finally I download the file that has the software for the camera (drivers etc.). I save the file in a folder set up that for that purpose on my harddisk!
8. The driver is in a so-called self extracting file. I find the file with Windows Explorer, and when I doubleclick on it a lot of other files are extracted. Those are actually all the data that normally are on a CD-ROM.
9. I make sure that the files are placed in the right folder:
10. Then I use Windows Explorer to localize the file that starts the driver installation. The file is in the folder where I have extracted the driver package.
11. The file is usually named Setup.exe, and that is also its name here. I doubleclick on it to start the installation.
Figure 74. The camera’s software needs to be installed. The procedure is the same, whether you get it from the Internet or from a CD-ROM.
The driver installation itself
In some cases a driver is just a simple small file. When it comes to digital cameras and scanners, the driver is usually part of a small program package. That is also the case with my camera. The Setup file starts the installation, which reads many files:
At some point I get a warning from Microsoft that the driver is not approved. This means that Microsoft has not tested the driver. That can’t be helped, since I need it, and Microsoft can not provide drivers for all the hardware units in the world. So I proceed by clicking on Continue anyway[n26]
Figure 75. Microsoft have problems supplying drivers for all hardware units. And when a driver is not approved by Microsoft, you get this warning.
Then the installation finishes. Now I am eager to see if the camera works in Windows XP. It does as I show in the next chapter. But first you have to restart the pc.