When it comes to adding new components to your PC, the bad old days of Windows NT were pretty dreadful. Installing a printer was difficult—but installing a sound card or modem was an exercise in masochism. A CNN (Certified Network Nerd) credential was essential.
That's because, when you attach a new component to your PC (modem, scanner, printer, networking card, digital camera, and so on), it won't work unless it has its own communication channels to your PC's brain—technical resources with such helpful names as interrupt request (IRQ) lines, direct memory access (DMA) channels, I/O addresses, and memory addresses. Your PC has a limited number of these resources; in the days before Plug and Play, the computer's components may have competed for the same channels or memory addresses, resulting in resource conflicts that could take hours to solve, if a solution was even possible.
Microsoft's Plug-and-Play technology is designed to eliminate much of this hassle. When you connect a Plug-and-Play device to your PC, Windows 2000 automatically and instantly configures its resource settings, and even installs its driver software, with very little effort on your part. Changing hardware components hasn't become completely effortless, but the pain is less severe and certainly less widespread, thanks to the Plug-and-Play standard.
This chapter covers Plug and Play; what to do when Plug and Play doesn't work; troubleshooting add-on equipment; and other aspects ...