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Part V: An Evening with Advanced Windows > Exploring Your Hardware Interface

Hour 15. Exploring Your Hardware Interface

Microsoft designed Windows XP so that you could take advantage of the latest hardware advances. Windows XP recognizes most devices currently in use and is designed with future devices and expandability in mind. This hour shows how the Windows interface utilizes your hardware. Windows supports Plug and Play, a term that describes automatic installation of new hardware you add to your PC. Prior to Plug and Play, you had to set jumper switches and make operating system settings. Often, hardware and software conflicts would occur, creating many hours of debugging headaches. With Plug and Play, you simply plug new hardware components such as memory, disk drives, CD-ROM drives, and expansion boards into your computer, and Windows immediately recognizes the change and sets up everything properly.

Plug and Play requires almost no thought when installing new hardware to your system. At least that's the theory. In reality, you might still encounter problems, as this hour explains. If Plug and Play does not perform as expected, Windows provides a hardware setup wizard that you can use to walk you through the new hardware's proper installation.

Windows has not only made it easier to change hardware on one system, but it also contains a program that aids you in changing entire machines. Many people work on multiple PCs. Perhaps you have a laptop as well as a desktop computer. Perhaps you work both at home and at the office. Whatever your situation, Windows XP's direct cable connection helps you transfer document files between machines without a network connection.

In this hour, you will

  • Discover what Plug and Play is all about

  • Learn which components must be in place for Plug and Play to work

  • Learn how Plug and Play benefits both you and hardware companies

  • Use the Hardware Wizard to add special hardware that requires more than Plug and Play

  • Implement direct cable connection to make connecting two computers virtually trouble-free



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