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Eugene Lin and Jason Cobb - Windows Plug and Play

52 minutes, 43 seconds


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Ever wonder what's really going on when you attach a peripheral device to your computer (running Windows XP or Vista)? Well, we wanted to find out the low level truths about Plug and Play in Windows. Who else better to talk to than Eugene Lin and Jason Cobb, the Plug and Play Guys ( Eugene is a Program Manager and Jason is a dev lead, both are on the Device Management and Installation team ). Join us ( Charles Torre and special guest Channel 9 correspondent/Technical Evangelist Jeremy Mazner ) as we discuss how PnP works and what's new for Vista in this most interesting and oft overlooked killer feature of Windows.


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  • ZeoZeo Channel 9 :)
    Thanks for the going deep video Charles.....order has been restored in the C9 universe and all is well Smiley Smiley

    Only thing I'm noticing in this video is that the sound volume is really really low....and my speakers have to be all the way up...maybe you could boost the volume on the videos during the encoding process?
  • CharlesCharles Welcome Change
    Yeah, sorry about the volume. In fact, the mic on my camera basically died during this interview and thanks to our sound guru Michael Lehman (Niner Ultraguy) we were able to salvage this video. So, unfortunately, you'll need to crank your volume, but it is well worth it!

    Since this interview, I've gotten a new camera and this sound issue will not happen again (at least not this bad).

    Again, Dr. Lehman saved this for us. (We almost didn't release it and were going to start over, but this is a great discussion and we didn't want to lose it)

  • ZeoZeo Channel 9 :)
    Thanks for salvaging the video Dr. Lehman and Charles!!!

    It's a great video!

    Good to know that you realized the issued but that it won't be a common issue with future C9 videos!

    Thanks again for another awesome going deep video. Smiley   
  • Great video. Thanks. Smiley

    I'm in the minimalist camp. Don't replace my legs!

  • ZeoZeo Channel 9 :)
    Hey Charles at the end of the video you said you were at T-minus 7 minutes......it was a great video....but can you just let us know why those last 7 minutes were cut?
  • CharlesCharles Welcome Change
    Zeo wrote:
    Hey Charles at the end of the video you said you were at T-minus 7 minutes......it was a great video....but can you just let us know why those last 7 minutes were cut?

    Yes. I edited it out because we discussed stuff that is not ready for public consumption at this point in time. Nothing Earth shattering, mind you, but we had to cut it just the same.

  • ZeoZeo Channel 9 :)
    Thanks for the explaination. I figured that was what happened.

    That got me to thinking....you know what would be cool. On the day that Vista launches Channel9 should launch a series called, "Secret Stuff" where all of the videos of Vista stuff that couldn't be shown on C9 during the development cycle(or that had to be edited out). By that time(the Day Vista launches) most everything will be public and it would be just be a cool "publicity" stunt to drive traffic to the site. 

    I don't know....the idea just seems really cool....because we'll be able to see everything that you guys were dying to show us but couldn't for various reasons. Just a thought.
  • Channel 9: The Director's Cut Big Smile
  • CharlesCharles Welcome Change
    Interesting idea, Zeo!

    It's unfortunate that sometimes we have to cut out stuff from our content (we really dislike editing not just because all of us are as lazy as Scoble(his words, not mine! He's not lazy...) Smiley, but because we feel it diminishes the transparent value of the video. That said, we aren't in the business of hurting our business. Make sense? We like to think we can be Transparent and Smart (from a business point of view) at the same time. Some things are better left unsaid and sometimes when they are said during one of our unscripted, unrehearsed interviews, well, we just have to do a little editing.

    I like the idea of after ship "bloopers", if you will. Good thinking, Zeo!
  • great video. i was wondering if they have solved the issues with plugging in the same thing, for example a USB drive (or anything else) into different USB ports and windows installing it again and again under different names (XYZ USB Drive 1, XYZ USB drive 2, you know what i mean)
  • Maybe you are referring to this:

    If so, I would really like an explanation also. 

    Scoble or Charles, is there anyway you can forward the above mentioned discussion thread to one of these guys for a response?  I know I am not the only one with the issue. 

    Thanks and keep up the great work, all of you guys. 
  • chemstudent, steamy, read http://blogs.msdn.com/oldnewthing/archive/2004/11/10/255047.aspx for an explanation of why Windows cannot recognize all devices if you switch USB ports.
  • thx, thats what i was looking for, but i would like to know if they have found a solution for this. the thread there is a 2004 thread, so maybe...
  • It's funny he mentioned the XBOX360 controller because it's the first USB device I've seen that actually went online and found a driver.
    I hope this happens much more frequently in the future.

    Unfortunately these drivers where just bare bones gamepad drivers with no way to set controller deadzone (making it useless in certain racing games), custom button mappings or rumble but at least it worked.
    I love the idea of having a device not find a driver generating an error report so that hardware manufacturers can find out what kind of problems users are having and help them find drivers online more easily.

    I HATE the junk (shovelware) certain companies trick users into installing when all they need is a simple driver. It's even more despicable than file type hijacking in my opinion.
  • Hi steamy-

    No, we haven't found a solution for this. Raymond sums up some of the problems well in his blog. While there are better ways that Windows can address this stuff, we only have so much time to get Vista solid enough for people to stake their livelihoods on it. 

    Some of the features we're adding to Vista PnP will make this less of a problem.  

    For example, you'll never get prompted for source media during a reinstall or rollback any more, because we squirrel away all the required driver files in the Driver Store before we do an installation. This means that while your mouse may still reinstall when you switch USB ports, Vista will have all the files it needs, guaranteed.

    The performance of the reinstall will also be faster due to the Driver Store anti-tampering features. Because we "trust" the drivers in the store to be unmodified, we don't have to re-verify file signatures when we install. Instead, we do the signing checks up-front when the drivers are imported into the store to make sure they haven't been corrupted or (eek) tampered. We were surprised by how much time the crypto calls were taking. Something like 70% of our install time if I recall correctly.

    To the thread about external USB drives not working, I've seen some similar problems when USB-powered drives couldn't get enough juice to function properly. There isn't much Windows can do if the drive stops working. From Windows' perspective, the drive was there one minute, gone the next. Whether it was due to lack of power or a wormhole opening up next to the PC is totally impossible for Windows to determine. The suggested solution of changing permissions on the enum keys in the registry and deleting them is creepy. However, we have also seen a few badly behaved installers (I believe there was a Korean light-pen or something like that) that actually modify PnP's permissions on these critical keys and break device installs. In those cases, we'll follow up with the vendors but we can't seal off these risks without breaking a lot of stuff. Back in the sunnier more optimistic days of early Longhorn planning we fantasized about doing stuff like this, but reality set in and time, unfortunately, continued to pass.

    That's all for now, kids. Hope that made sense.


  • Eugene, Thanks for the reply. My situation isn't necessarily about power. I know the drive works, Windows recognizes it, but when I Hibernate or restart/reboot the computer, the drive may not show up again. I know my USB ports work on the machine, becuase no other device has a problem, on any other ports. I know going into the registry is a big NO NO for a lot of people, but it was my last resort, and it seems to be the only sure fire way for Windows to see the external hard drive again. (After it re-recognizes it, the little balloon pops up and goes through the whole device found, installing drivers, device is ready to use). Also you mentioned poor installers from certain devices. Isn't the Adaptec cover just using the drivers supplied by Windows? I am just curious on this issue and since you are part of the USB team, I was hoping you can offer some insight. Thanks again for the reply and the information David
  • Hi Dentaku-

    I laugh because when I plugged in the XBOX360 controller for the first time, I wasn't sure what had happened. I went to the setupapi.log to confirm that we actually found something on Windows Update. I was happy to see someone finally using this feature. For Vista we've made the experience even better for WU, and there are folks evangelizing the message to partners. And I'm pretty sure this internet thing is here to stay. Smiley

    Yes, the shovelware problem is frustrating. Luckily for us, there is a way out. If I don't like the stuff that ships with a device, then I simply return the device. Call me an optimistic capitalist...

    Here's hoping for a cleaner ecosystem with Vista. Less crapware. More "it just works." Shiny glass for everyone.

  • Actually, I'm not part of the USB team. As a member of the Plug and Play team, I help build the infrastructure that manages device installation. The USB bus is just another device to us, and there is a whole team of smart folks that know all about those three letters.

    Might I suggest that you speak with the folks who made the device? If nothing's wrong with your PC, then this is probably happening for a lot of other owners as well. They may have an answer.

  • MinhMinh WOOH!  WOOH!
    With flash memory coming down in price, why not embed the drivers inside the devices themselves? Then you'd really have a PnP experience.
  • crispybitcrispybit Mr. Crispy himself
    Nice, really filled in a lot of gaps in my knowledge about how Windows handles its drivers. I agree with minh, I think including a driver on the devices own flashROM would provide a true PnP experience. I can get a 256 MiB thumb drive from best buy for like $30 bucks, Im no expert but drivers and 3rd party apps to interface with those drivers shouldnt be more than 64-128MiB so what an extra 10-15 bucks on top of the price? and thats at consumer pricing, Im sure a large IHV would be able to get this storage in bulk pricing. Smiley keep up the great work guys! Cool
  • Hi,

    When I watched your show, you did mention about the "Heart Monitor". I knew that there is a device from Microlife called Blood Pressure Monitor. It can link with the PC by USB connection. How can I use the Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 to control it, please.


  • john.d.murphyjohn.d.​murphy John Murphy (FAA)
    This was enlightening.  It was one of the best yet!
  • I'm afraid I can't help you there; we just install the drivers. In terms of how you communicate with them you need to talk to the folks who wrote the driver.

  • hi eugene!

    thank you very much, that answeres my question! the driver store seems a good idea finally for managing all those drivers. good job guys!!!
  • This is one of the best videos ive watched on channel 9 and ive watched a few Wink

    Keep up the excellent work.


  • William Staceystaceyw Before C# there was darkness...

    1) Make generic driver that can talk to any USB printer that supports P1 spec.  Call it "Windows Ready To Print" logo.

    2) Any device that supports P1, also supports P1+ which is a driver that is installed *on the device.  The driver can be downloaded from the device using the P1 driver.  The P1+ driver will contain the URL for the Model (not the home page) with updated drivers or app software.  P1 and P1+ are drivers *only* and run in user mode only and must be certified if they want the Ready-To-Print logo.  I'd pay extra if they did not install all that crud in the tray or my desktop!!

    3) People could also install the CD or from exe or inf as today if needed.


  • Great video, I love it when people talk about the frustrating experiences in Windows. My 3 biggies for a long time have been programs fighting over file associations, programs adding context menu functions with no easy way to edit them and manufacturers installing all sorts of tray applications that run on start, even though you have no use for them. It boggles my mind how awful some of these little apps are when you consider how much effort they must have put into the hardware.

    Are you considering any way that manufacturers can add custom functionality without having apps that run all the time? Something like an applet that hosts all the custom interfaces so you can configure non-standard features, without having to have all these processes running and no easy way to remove them.

    Also, it would be nice to have an easy way to list all the installed drivers and uninstall old drivers or move between different installed versions in a standard way, and move everything away from custom install wizards.

    Anyway, good job
  • Why can't there be a legal solution to the WHQL-cheating issue?

    One of the stipulations of submitting a driver for WHQL could be that the manufacturer signs a contract asserting that they are making a good-faith effort to fairly test their driver.  If there are serious customer reports of malfunction (it would only matter for high-volume devices), Microsoft could reserve the right to sue the manufacturers if they passed the tests only due to cheating.


  •    Hey guyz does anyone know where i can get a pre-release version of vista beta 2. I've already tested beta 1 but found that it was to slow so i switched back to xp. But now i feel like testing beta 2 so if anyone knows were i can download it from...plz help me out...ok.

  • Deactivated UserDeactivated User

    Great video!


    I was wondering out of curiosity if there will be an easy way to add and remove drivers from the driver store to make, for example, a custom installation CD with all the drivers already installed or to manage the existing store.

  • Hi freney-

    Yes there will be easy ways to manage drivers in the Driver Store. We'll have a command-line utility that allows administrators to add, enumerate and delete drivers from the Driver Store. We've also plumbed the existing SetupCopyOemInf and SetupUninstallOemInf APIs to add and delete drivers from the Driver Store, respectively. And we're adding a new API to enumerate the drivers in the store. You'll reference drivers in the store via the INFs that we publish to %windir%\inf. That way we're safe to move the Driver Store location or even modify the storage format in future revisions.

  • Hi mycroft-

    We actually already support ways that manufacturers can add custom pages to device property dialogs (many display vendors do this with the display cpl); many choose to do something else. It all comes down to what device manufacturers believe the user experience should be like. The Windows ecosystem is wide and varied, so you're getting a lot of choices. And with choice, comes good and bad options.

    As I mentioned to freney, we will offer ways that users can enumerate the drivers they have in the Driver Store. We didn't have time to implement a GUI interface to this (that would have been great), but we will be able to satisfy the needs of the IT crowd with command-line and API interfaces.

    From Device Manager (yeah, I know, blech) you can roll back to a previously installed driver from any device. And the Update Driver Software Wizard will let you manually select from a list of compatible drivers. I hope that most people won't have to do this, since our inbox support is improved over XP and we're pushing hard to get partners to support their newer devices seamlessly via Windows Update.

  • Fascinating look into PnP.  Very good explanations, that are clear to the layperson.  Nice job guys!
  • It was very interresting. However I have a question, more like a typical situation in XP. Installing Windows on a new machine/laptop usually windows is not able to use immediately the network card (Which is the on board 10/100 Ethernet adatpter from random supplier). So it pops up the install driver and would like to search for the driver on the internet...- and the manufactured didn't include driver disk You need a network card driver to install the network card.
    Did this change in Vista? Or I still need another computer to download the driver?
  • Hi Karnokd

    I have a small tip for you that may work.  If I was about to reinstall Windows XP or Vista from scratch, before I did, while I was still online, I would go to the Web site of the manufacturer of my built-in Broadcom Gigabit network hardware, and download the drivers to my hard drive.  Then, from there, I would copy the driver files to either a USB Flash memory key or just burn them onto a recordable CD or DVD.  This is exactly what I have done, prior to reinstalling Windows Vista Home Premium.  The network drivers for my Dell XPS 720 home tower PC (and a whole load of other drivers besides) have been copied onto a DVD+RW.  This means I have all drivers to hand!

    In your case, you are setting up the network hardware from a brand new PC (after you have installed Windows.)  I take it the machine has Windows XP Home or Pro on it at the moment?  You could be in a Catch-22 situation here!  However, Vista may have the drivers for your network hardware already inside the operating system (I know Vista has a lot more built-in drivers than XP had.)  Failing that, then the only way would be to use a second PC that is already online to the Web to download the drivers that way.  Then put them on a USB Flash memory key or DVD+RW (if you have the correct DVD drive on the other PC) and then try to install them on the laptop.

    If you could tell me the exact make and model of your network hardware (you should find this information in your laptop PC manual somewhere), I could try to find it on the Web for you, if you like.

    Sorry I could not be of any more help, but I am very new to Vista and have never even installed it before, so I don't know what to expect when I do come to reinstall it!

    Please let me know if you found this advice helpful!

    Alastair C Parker.


  • ES bello

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