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Hardware and Devices

With its dominant market share, Windows is the most hardware-compatible operating system in the world. This means that you'll probably never run into a piece of hardware that doesn't work with Windows. Some stats: (source)US desktop market share for the past 12 months

Black-and-white Brother printer Better still, whenever you plug a new device into your PC, Windows 10 will fetch all the necessary software ("drivers") from Microsoft's servers. You nearly never have to manually install them. You may remember the old days of buying a printer and popping in a CD to install the software - everything works out of the box nowadays, which is pretty amazing if you think about the number of hardware devices in the world. (Pictured is Brother's awesome HL-L2300D laser printer.)

Hardware and Devices Tutorials

Firmware vs. drivers vs. settings (options)

Custom firmware for Wacom tablet on Windows At the lowest level, firmware is the software that makes hardware components function. Drivers are the software that allows Windows to "talk" to the hardware. This includes hardware inside the machine as well as external hardware ("peripherals"). We also call "drivers" the software hardware manufacturers create to let us interact with their devices. Drivers for human are often non-essential. For example, the Wacom tablet I use for design work doesn't need custom drivers by Wacom to function. But the drivers allow me to me calibrate the tablet, customize button actions, etc.

"Settings" are the options that a piece of software lets you change for either a piece of software or a piece of hardware. Here are the settings (also called "options") for the Postbox email program - software to customize software: Postbox main Options window