Does Windows 8 Eliminate Hardware Drivers?

Does Windows 8 Eliminate Hardware Drivers?

Some people who are considering an upgrade to Windows 8 have heard that the new version of the OS eliminates the need for Windows hardware drivers. Sadly, that’s not true, but Microsoft has made some noticeable changes when it comes to hardware device drivers.

Windows 8 still uses device drivers

The bottom line is that Windows 8 still uses device drivers. Given what a device driver does, it’s hard to imagine being able to get away from device drivers altogether – at least in the near future. A device driver is a piece of hardware that sits between the computer and devices attached to it. The device driver tells the computer how to access the peripheral hardware properly.

In an older computing setup, devices are physically attached to the computer. Printers, external storage devices, USB devices, monitors and network cables all make a physical connection to the computer. When considering mobile devices, though, this physical connection isn’t necessarily part of the picture. At the same time, mobile devices still connect to networks and use “virtually connected” resources like printers and other networked hardware devices.

The mobile computer or device still needs to know how to interact with the network, the network printer, network data storage, servers on the network and other devices. Some mobile devices also use “near field communications” capabilities to set up “ad hoc” networks among themselves. These “instant networks” are not meant to last for a long period of time, but can facilitate the transfer of data from one device to another.

So, with machine-to-machine communication possibilities and the growing popularity of mobile devices, the prospect of downloading hardware drivers can be a bummer indeed. With Windows 8, Microsoft has attempted to standardize the way mobile devices talk to printers, networks and other common devices to eliminate the need to go looking for specific device drivers.

Has it worked? For some devices, the approach not only works, but saves both time and headaches. It’s not 100% foolproof and it hasn’t eliminated the need for hardware drivers in the Windows 8 environment, but it does represent a new approach to some of the most common and basic connectivity issues for mobile devices.

Regardless of what version of Windows you run, I recommend that you download and use Driver Detective to manage your Windows hardware device drivers. Driver Detective has been downloaded and used more than a million times to manage Windows driver updates and driver software replacements. Download a copy today and leave driver software management to Driver Detective.

Photo Credit: Filip Skakun, via Flickr