Device Enhancements in Windows

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The device experience in Windows 7 builds upon the many improvements previously made in this area in Windows Vista. The following list summarizes some of the changes to device management implemented in Windows Vista. Many of these changes are significant for IT professionals who manage computers in enterprise environments, and later sections of this chapter explain how many of these enhancements work.

■ Driver store Provides a central and authoritative point from which device driver files are copied to their final location when devices are installed.

■ Windows Resource Protection Replaces Windows File Protection (WFP) and protects the integrity of system files and system registry settings, including device drivers and device settings . Drivers are added to the list of Windows Resource Protection (WRP)-protected files on the system only if they have been specifically flagged for protection by WRP when being staged to the driver store.

■ New standards for driver development The Windows Logo Program Requirements 3 . 0 details new guidelines for vendors developing drivers to ensure that devices can be installed silently under nonprivileged standard user accounts without the need for reboots or local administrative privileges on the system.

■ Driver staging Speeds up device installation and provides driver verification to prevent Plug and Play (PnP) detection of devices from causing the computer to stop responding or crash during device installation as a result of poorly written or corrupt drivers .

■ Driver packaging Keeps all files needed for device installation in a single location during staging

■ New tools for managing driver packages Administrators can use PnPutil. exe, Drvload. exe, and other tools to add or remove driver packages from the driver store using either online or offline staging.

■ Mandatory driver signing Requires all device drivers developed for 64-bit versions of Windows to be digitally signed.

■ Internal and third-party driver signing Provides enterprises with guidelines and tools for signing in-house and third-party-developed drivers .

■ INF changes Changes to INF file syntax to verify compatibility and ensure that only verified drivers are added to the store.

■ New driver-ranking algorithm A new algorithm that Windows uses to determine which version of a driver is the most stable version for a particular device.

■ Recursive searching for driver paths During driver installation, driver paths— including the specified directory and all its subdirectories—are searched recursively to find suitable drivers with fewer user prompts. In addition, Windows automatically searches multiple paths, including the local driver store, removable media, network shares, and even Windows Update, to locate and install the most suitable driver for a newly detected device.

■ New diagnostic logging When enabled, driver diagnostic logging now writes information to the event logs instead of to a separate log file.

■ Windows Error Reporting When a device driver or device install fails for any reason, the user is prompted to send information to Microsoft using Windows Error Reporting (WER) . Microsoft and Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) can then analyze the information and provide updated drivers if needed.

■ Windows Update/Microsoft Update Microsoft and ISVs can provide updated drivers that can be silently and transparently downloaded and installed on users' computers when they become available.

■ Windows Display Driver Model A new video device driver model called Windows Display Driver Model (WDDM) replaces the XP Device Driver Model (XDDM) and provides enhanced functionality, including full Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) support for video output devices, support for Windows Aero Glass, and improved video driver stability.

■ Windows System Assessment Windows System Assessment (WinSAT) can be used for benchmarking system performance and determining the level of Aero Glass that can be used on the system . You can also use WinSAT to troubleshoot device driver issues during system startup .

■ New group Policy settings for managing device installation and error reporting Provide enhanced ways for using WER to control device installation and report driver failures. Blocking installation of devices by device manufacturer, device class, or specific device ID using Group Policy is also supported, and users can receive customized feedback when installation of a device is blocked.

■ New group Policy settings for blocking installation and use of removable storage devices Help to protect enterprises against accidental or malicious information leakage using portable storage devices, such as universal serial bus (USB) flash drives and portable media players . Policies can be configured to either block installation of removable media entirely or allow users only to read from such media but not write to them

■ New group Policy settings for power management Provide enterprises with a way of configuring and enforcing power policy across computers in the enterprise .

■ Removal of support for standard Hardware Abstraction Layers Standard (nonACPI) Hardware Abstraction Layers (HALs) are no longer supported.

■ Removal of support for IEEE 1394 (FireWire) Support for IEEE 1394 network has been removed.

The next list summarizes the additional changes to device management that have been introduced in Windows 7.

■ Devices And Printers A new Start menu and Control Panel item in Windows 7 that provides users with a single location where they can discover, configure, and use devices connected to their computers For more information about this feature, see the section titled "Using the Devices And Printers Folder" later in this chapter

■ Device Stage A new, intuitive visual interface for supported devices that makes it easier for users to configure, use, and manage devices connected to their computers . For more information about this feature, see the section titled "Understanding Device Stage" later in this chapter.

■ Device containers An enhancement to the Windows PnP infrastructure that allows grouping together the various functions supported by a device . For more information about this feature, see the section titled "Device Containers" later in this chapter.

■ Improved device driver installation experience The device installation experience has been improved in Windows 7 to make it easier than ever for users to connect devices to their computers, including both wired and wireless devices. For an overview of these improvements, see the section titled "Enhancements to the Device Installation Experience in Windows 7" later in this chapter.

■ New Group Policy settings for device installation New Group Policy settings have been added to Windows 7 and the Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system for managing new features, such as Device Stage, and to enhance the manageability of the Windows device installation experience . These new policy settings are covered in the appropriate sections later in this chapter.

■ Display enhancements Windows 7 includes numerous display enhancements that provide improved display performance and reliability. For an overview of some of these enhancements, see the sidebar titled "Display Enhancements in Windows 7" later in this chapter

■ Other device enhancements Windows 7 includes numerous other device enhancements, including the following:

• Windows Biometric Framework (WBF), which provides a technology stack for supporting fingerprint biometric devices by Independent Hardware Vendors (IHVs).

• Windows Mobile Broadband Driver Model, which defines the standards for driver integration and the use of the native broadband functionality included in Windows 7.

• Windows Portable Devices (WPD), which provides a new way for computers to communicate with attached media and storage devices . WPD introduces two new features: an object-based Device-Driver Interface (DDI) and the Media Transfer Protocol (MTP). In addition, WPD supersedes the Windows Media Device Manager (WMDM) and Windows Image Acquisition (WIA) features used in earlier versions of Windows .

Display Enhancements in Windows 7

Windows 7 now supports WDDM 1.1, which reduces memory consumption for Windows Aero and provides improved display performance, improved video overlay presentation, a better viewing experience on TVs and widescreen laptops, and improved reliability and ability to diagnose problems. Windows 7 includes improved support for high-dot-per-inch (DPI) monitors, and users can configure DPI settings by using the enhanced Display utility in Control Panel, as shown here.

In Windows 7, the Display utility uses scaling percentages instead of the raw DPI values for a more intuitive user experience by allowing users to adjust their text size and other elements to make it easier for them to read their screens. The correlation between the scaling percentages and DPI settings presented by the Display utility are as follows:

■ 100% scaling equals 96 DPI

■ 125% scaling equals 120 DPI

■ 150% scaling equals 144 DPI (this High DPI option is new in Windows 7)

Similar to Windows Vista, advanced users can still access the Custom DPI Setting dialog box in Windows 7 to specify a custom DPI setting for their monitors. To open this dialog box, select the Set Custom Text Size (DPI) setting in the image shown above in this sidebar.

Beginning with Windows 7, however, DPI settings can be configured on a per-user basis instead of on a per-machine basis. In addition, DPI settings can now be changed without the need for rebooting the system, although a logoff/logon is still required for the changes to take effect. Windows Internet Explorer 8 also includes native support for High DPI.

DPI settings can now be configured during deployment by configuring the <DPI> setting under <Display> in the Unattend.xml answer file to a value of 96, 120, or 144. Note that some applications can have rendering issues at nonstandard DPIs. To resolve such issues, Windows 7 (like Windows Vista before it) includes support for automatic scaling (also known as DPI Virtualization) to enable ISV applications that are not yet DPI aware to be displayed properly. Automatic scaling can be disabled on a per-application basis by selecting the Disable Display Scaling On High DPI Settings check box on the Compatibility tab of the application's Properties dialog box.

Other display enhancements found in Windows 7 include support for integrated display brightness control, a new Display Color Calibration (DCC) tool, and an enhanced Windows Touch technology that supports multi-touch. For additional information on display enhancements in Windows 7, see the Hardware Design For Windows 7 page on Windows Hardware Developer Central (WHDC) at http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/system/hwdesign/HWdesign_Win7.mspx.

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