Windows 7 / Getting Started

Driver Ranking

Windows XP uses the following algorithm to arbitrate between several possible drivers when installing a device:

  1. In-box drivers are given first preference.
  2. Windows Hardware Quality Labs (WHQL)-signed drivers are given next preference, with the most recent driver preferred.
  3. Unsigned drivers are given lowest preference, with the most recent driver preferred.

Windows Vista and later versions support the following eight levels of digital signature, listed in order of decreasing preference:

  1. Microsoft-signed WHQL-Certified drivers
  2. Microsoft-signed in-box drivers (NT Build Lab Certified)
  3. Microsoft-signed WinSE-Certified drivers
  4. Drivers that have been signed using Authenticode (Enterprise CA)
  5. Drivers that have been signed using Authenticode (Class 3 CA Certified)
  6. Drivers that have been signed using Authenticode (MAKECERT.EXE Certified)
  7. Microsoft-signed WHQL-Certified drivers for a previous version of the Windows operating system
  8. Unsigned drivers

Note For the purpose of calculating rank, WHQL, DQS, INBOX, STANDARD, and PREMIUM are all equal for both Windows XP and Windows Vista.

In addition to if (and how) drivers are signed, Windows Vista and later versions use the following criteria to determine which version of a driver should be installed for a particular device:

  • The value of the feature score specified in the driver INF file if one is provided
  • How closely the Plug and Play ID (PNPID) of the device matches the PNPID of the driver
  • How recent is the driver compared to other suitable drivers
  • The driver version

Note Date and version are considered only if every other aspect of the driver rank is equal-such as signed/unsigned, same hardware ID match, and so on.

For WDDM display drivers, the driver arbitration algorithm is more complex, including the following:

  1. WHQL or in-box driver
  2. WHQL-Certified or Authenticode-signed driver for an earlier version of the Windows operating system
  3. Unsigned driver
  4. WDDM driver preferred over any other technology
  5. Device ID
  6. Driver date
  7. Driver version

Note Driver arbitration for audio devices and printers follows a similar algorithm to that used for WDDM display drivers.

Although the default driver-ranking process favors Microsoft-signed drivers over Authenticode- signed drivers, you can modify this behavior by configuring the following Group Policy setting:

Computer Configuration\Policies\Administrative Templates\System\Device Installation \Treat All Digitally Signed Drivers Equally In The Driver Ranking And Selection Process

For more information, see the section titled "Managing Device Installation Behavior" later in this tutorial.

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In this tutorial:

  1. Managing Devices and Services
  2. Understanding Device Installation and Management
  3. Device Enhancements in Windows 7
  4. Display Enhancements in Windows 7
  5. Understanding Device Installation
  6. Driver Store and Driver Packaging
  7. Driver Staging vs Installation
  8. Driver Staging and Installation Process
  9. Detailed Installation Process
  10. Managing Driver Packages
  11. Using PnPutil.exe
  12. Using Dism.exe
  13. Driver Signing
  14. Driver Ranking
  15. Installing and Using Devices
  16. Enhancements to the Device Installation Experience in Windows 7
  17. Scenario 1: Driver found in Driver Store
  18. Scenario 2: Driver found on Windows Update
  19. Scenario 3: Driver in Driver Store, But Better Driver on Windows Update
  20. Scenario 5: No Driver Can Be Found for the device
  21. Scenario 6: Vendor -supplied media is available
  22. Scenario 7: Additional Device Software is Available For Download from vendor
  23. Configuring Device Installation Settings
  24. Using the Devices And Printers Folder
  25. Understanding Device Stage
  26. Understanding the Device Experience Architecture
  27. Device Containers
  28. Device display object
  29. Device Metadata System
  30. Managing Device Installation Using Group Policy
  31. Managing Device Installation Behavior
  32. Managing Driver Installation Behavior
  33. Blocking Installation of Removable Devices
  34. Managing Device Redirection Behavior
  35. Troubleshooting Device Installation
  36. Using Windows Error Reporting
  37. Using the SetupAPI Log File
  38. Using Driver INF Files
  39. Using Device Manager Error Codes
  40. Using Driver Verifier
  41. Repairing Driver Store Corruption
  42. Repairing Index File Corruption
  43. Understanding Power Management
  44. Power Management Enhancements in Windows 7
  45. New Power Policies in Windows 7
  46. Configuring Power Management Settings
  47. Configuring Power Management Settings Using the Power Options Utility in Control Panel
  48. Configuring Power Management Settings Using Group Policy
  49. Configuring Power Management Settings Using the Powercfg Utility
  50. Understanding Services
  51. Service Enhancements in Windows 7
  52. Managing Services
  53. Managing Services Using Task Manager
  54. Managing Services Using the Sc.exe Command