Windows 7 / Getting Started

Enhancements to the Device Installation Experience in Windows 7

The device installation experience has been enhanced in Windows 7 in four ways:

  • It is automatic When a device has been connected, Windows 7 automatically searches all configured device driver locations to find the most recent driver for the device. The device is then installed without any wizard or elevation prompt being displayed. Only a balloon notification (Windows can be configured to hide this) above the animated PnP icon in the system tray is visible to provide an indication that drivers are being installed for the device, and by clicking on this balloon notification (or the animated PnP icon) the user can view extended status information that indicates which device driver location is currently being searched. The device installation process in Windows 7 is thus entirely automatic from the user's perspective and can even happen when no user is logged on to the system.
  • It is easier In previous versions of Windows, Bluetooth pairing was a complex experience for users. Beginning with Windows 7, however, this is no longer the case. The Add A Device wizard now makes this task extremely easy and intuitive. The Add A Device wizard also supports Vertical Pairing, which means that when you connect a WiFi device to your network, Windows will automatically pair your computer with the device. You no longer have to manually perform multiple steps such as connecting the device to a WiFi network, pairing with the device, and so on.
  • It is accurate In Windows Vista, when a new device is connected to the computer, Windows checks the driver store for a supported device driver for the device. If a driver is found, the driver is installed, and the driver installation process ends without checking whether Windows Update might have a newer version of the driver. Beginning with Windows 7, however, Windows by default queries Windows Update first when searching for a driver for a device that has just been connected to or discovered by the system. If no driver can be found for the device on Windows Update, then Windows 7 checks its own driver store for a supported driver for the device. This default device path in Windows 7 (namely, using Windows Update first followed by the driver store) is fully configurable using Group Policy for administrators who want to have greater control over device installation. For more information, see the section titled "Managing Device Installation Using Group Policy" later in this tutorial.
  • Performance has improved To make device installation occur more quickly, a system restore point in Windows 7 is no longer captured prior to installing a new device. Users can also cancel lengthy driver downloads if they need to do so, and in special cases, certain devices can be configured not to search Windows Update for supported drivers. Note The Add Hardware Control Panel utility found in Windows Vista has been removed from Control Panel of Windows 7. Users who still need the Add Hardware wizard to install older devices connected to their computers manually can do so by typing hdwwiz in the Search box on the Start menu and pressing Enter.

To understand how device installation works in Windows 7, it is useful to consider a number of different scenarios, including:

  1. A driver is found in the driver store.
  2. A driver is found on Windows Update.
  3. A driver is found in the driver store, but a better one is found on Windows Update.
  4. A driver is found somewhere in the device path on the corporate network as configured using Group Policy.
  5. No driver is found for the device in the driver store, on Windows Update, on the corporate network, or on media the user possesses.
  6. Media supplied by the device vendor is in the possession of the user. Such media typically contains software that provides additional device functionality beyond what can be provided by the device driver alone.
  7. No media has been supplied by the device vendor, but vendor software is needed to achieve device functionality beyond what can be provided by the device driver alone. This additional software is available for download from the vendor.

The sections that follow examine each of these driver installation scenarios by comparing what happened in Windows Vista with how things have changed in Windows 7. These scenarios describe the device installation experience for all PnP devices on Windows 7, including both external and internal devices, single- or multifunction devices, and wireless devices.

By examining these scenarios, you will see that, by default, Windows 7 searches Windows Update for compatible device drivers before checking the driver store on the computer. The main purpose of this change in device driver installation behavior is to ensure that Windows obtains the latest driver for a device. In previous versions of Windows, the driver installation process ended as soon as a compatible driver was found, even if a better-ranked driver was available in another location. In Windows 7, however, if a driver for a device is found in both the driver store and on Windows Update, the better-ranked driver is installed. For more information on configuring this behavior, see the section titled "Managing Device Installation Using Group Policy" 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