Part of the installation process for a new piece of hardware is ensuring that it doesn’t interfere with any of your other components (see the box on the facing page). Fortunately, Microsoft’s Plug and Play technology is designed to avoid such conflicts.
Virtually every modern computer add-on is Plug and Play–compatible. (Look for a “Designed for Windows” logo on the box.) Chances are good that you’ll live a long and happy life with Windows XP without ever having to lose a Saturday to manually configuring new gizmos you buy for it, as your forefathers did.
But gadgets that were designed before the invention of Plug and Play are another story. These so-called legacy devices often require manual configuration. Fortunately, Windows XP comes with wizards to walk you through this process, making it slightly less difficult.
When installing a new piece of hardware, you either connect it to a port (a connector usually on the back of your computer) or insert it into an expansion slot on the motherboard (the computer’s main circuit board).
Modems and adapter cards for video, sound, network cabling, disk drives, and tape drives, for example, generally take the form of circuit boards, or cards, that you install by inserting into an expansion slot (sometimes called a bus) inside your PC’s case.
The two common (and mutually incompatible) kinds of slots are called ISA and PCI. Most computers offer both kinds of slots; you’ll have to open your ...