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Part II: Unleashing Windows 98 Customiza... > Getting the Most Out of Device Manag...

Chapter 10. Getting the Most Out of Device Manager and Hardware Profiles

IN THIS CHAPTER

Man is a shrewd inventor, and is ever taking the hint of a new machine from his own structure, adapting some secret of his own anatomy in iron, wood, and leather, to some required function in the work of the world.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Emerson's concept of a “machine” was decidedly low-tech (“iron, wood, and leather”), but his basic idea is still apt in these high-tech times. Man has taken yet another “secret of his own anatomy”—the brain—and used it as the “hint of a new machine”—the computer. And although even the most advanced computer is still a mere toy compared to the breathtaking complexity of the human brain (Deep Blue notwithstanding), some spectacular advancements have been made in the art of hardware in recent years.

One of the hats an operating system must wear is that of an intermediary between you and your hardware. Any OS worth its salt has to translate incomprehensible “devicespeak” into something you can make sense out of, and it must ensure that devices are ready, willing, and able to carry out your commands. Given the sophistication and diversity of today's hardware market, however, that's no easy task. The good news is that Windows 98 brings to the PC world an unprecedented level of interaction with hardware. From its basic architecture to the advanced device management tools it provides, Windows 98 is built from the ground up to make your hardware travails trivial. Did Microsoft achieve this laudable goal? Not really, no. But it's a huge improvement over the primitive tools that existed in previous versions of Windows, so, if nothing else, it will make your hardware chores easier. This chapter provides you with an introduction to Windows 98's hardware support and provides detailed coverage of Device Manager and hardware profiles. I cover specific hardware devices in Chapter 11, “Device Advice: Dealing with Devices in Windows 98.”


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