A PC contains several pounds of wires, slots, cards, and chips—enough hardware to open a TrueValue store. Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about making all of your PC’s preinstalled components work together. In theory, at least, the PC maker did that part for you. (Unless you built the machine yourself, that is. In that case, best of luck.)

But adding new gear to your computer is another story. For the power user, hard drives, flash drives, cameras, printers, scanners, network cards, video cards, keyboards, monitors, game controllers, palmtop cradles, and other accessories all make life worth living. When you introduce a new piece of equipment to the PC, you must hook it up and install its driver, the software that lets a new gadget talk to the rest of the PC.

The driver issue is a chronic, nagging worry for the average Windows fan, however. Drivers conflict; drivers are missing; drivers go bad; drivers go out of date.

Fortunately, in Vista, Microsoft continues to hammer away at the driver problem. Vista comes with thousands upon thousands of drivers for common products already built in, and Microsoft deposits dozens more on your hard drive, behind the scenes, with every Windows Update (Section 14.3). Chances are good that you’ll live a long and happy life with Windows Vista without ever having to lose a Saturday manually configuring new gizmos you buy for it, as your forefathers did.

This chapter guides you through installing accessory gadgets ...

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