Customizing Your Computer’s Hardware
One of the most frustrating aspects of working with computers is that just about
every computer has different hardware devices. Even computers from the same man-
ufacturer may have different motherboards, disk controllers, video cards, and net-
work adapters. Like its predecessors, Windows Vista has an extensive list of
compatible hardware devices and also supports Plug and Play. Helping you navigate
your hardware options, understand how hardware installation works, optimize your
hardware, and install new hardware is what this chapter is all about. As you’ll learn,
hardware has changed considerably in the past few years and there are many impor-
tant new options.
Hardware Installation: What’s Changed
Hardware installation from Windows XP to Windows Vista hasn’t changed much.
What has changed significantly since Windows XP was introduced is the array of
options when it comes to hardware devices. Whether you are installing new hard-
ware in your existing computer or getting acquainted with the types of hardware
available for a computer you’ve recently purchased, it’s important to consider your
options carefully. All computers can use two types of hardware:
Internal hardware devices
Internal hardware devices are devices you install inside your computer. Typi-
cally, you’ll need to power down and unplug your computer, and then remove
the computer case before you can install an internal device.
External hardware devices
External hardware devices are devices you connect to your computer. Because
you don’t have to open your computer’s case to connect external devices, you
typically don’t need to power down or unplug your computer before installing
an external device.