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If a signed, Windows Vista compatible driver is not available for a given device, you might be able to use a driver originally written for a previous version of Windows. For the best chance of success, find a driver written for Microsoft Windows XP or Windows Server 2003. Many (but certainly not all) of these drivers will work properly in Windows Vista. Some drivers that were originally written for Windows 2000 might work under Windows Vista, but the odds are against it. You ll have best luck with drivers that were signed by WHQL for Windows XP or Windows Server 2003. Under normal circumstances, these should install with no warnings.
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Drivers originally written for Microsoft Windows 95/98/Me or Microsoft Windows NT are unlikely to work properly with Windows Vista, because the architectural differences between those operating systems and Windows Vista are just too great.
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It s not always clear from the labeling on the outside of a floppy disk or CD that the drivers it contains are for multiple Windows versions. Sometimes the structure of the disk itself can offer important clues. Look for a Windows Vista or Vista subdirectory, for example, and point the Add Hardware Wizard to that location when prompted. If a suitable .inf file is available, you may be able to complete the installation.
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Knowing what hardware drivers are installed on your computer can make a huge difference when it comes to troubleshooting problems or configuring advanced features for a device. In every case, your starting point is Device Manager, a graphical utility that provides detailed information about all installed hardware, along with controls that you can use to configure devices, assign resources, and set advanced options. To open Device Manager, use any of the following techniques:
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From any command prompt, type devmgmt.msc. Right-click the Computer icon on the Start menu or the desktop, choose Manage, and then select Device Manager from the left pane of the Computer Management console, under System Tools. In Control Panel, open System and click the Device Manager link in the Tasks list in the left column.
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As Figure 5-3 on the next page shows, Device Manager is organized as a hierarchical list that inventories every piece of hardware within or connected to your computer. The default view shows devices by type.
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The yellow exclamation point means this device has a configuration problem.
Figure 5-3 Click the plus sign to the left of each category in Device Manager to see individual devices within that category.
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Change the Device Manager view
You can change the default view of Device Manager to organize entries in the list by resource or by connection. Use Device Manager s View menu to switch between any of the four built-in views. Resource views are especially useful when you re trying to track down problems caused by IRQ conflicts. Choosing either the Resources By Type view or the Resources By Connection view shows a list of all devices in which you can see how DMA, IO addresses, and IRQs are assigned. Another option on the View menu lets you show hidden devices.
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To view information about a specific device, double-click its entry in Device Manager s list of installed devices. Each device has its own multitabbed properties dialog box. At a minimum, each device includes two tabs, General and Driver. The General tab lists basic facts about the device, including the device name, the name of its manufacturer, and its current status, as shown in Figure 5-4.
Check for device error codes here.
Click here to attempt to reinstall a driver.
Figure 5-4 The General tab supplies basic information about a device and whether it is currently functioning properly.
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The Driver tab, shown in Figure 5-5 on the next page, lists version information about the currently installed driver for the selected device. Although the information shown here is sparse, it covers the essentials. You can tell at a glance who supplied the driver and whether it s digitally signed; you can also determine the date and version number of the driver, which is important when deciding whether you should download and install an available update.
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