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Can you pre-install software drivers for Windows XP so that they install automatically when the device is detected?

Posted on 2007-07-25
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Last Modified: 2013-12-01
I am trying to deploy a usb serial port on each of about 140 Windows XP Professional computers. When installed on a single computer, the Found New Hardware Wizard pops up and prompts for drivers (they are not included with Windows). If I specify a location, they install normally and everything works fine after that. The problem is that I don't want to deal with the Found New Hardware Wizard on each of 140 machines.
I have remote network access to each PC. Is there a way to copy the drivers to each PC in such a way that when the usb device is inserted to each for the first time, windows will automatically load the drivers and install the device without prompting the user for input?
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Question by:homewrecker
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by:Will Szymkowski
ID: 19570343
Typically when you install the drivers first and then install the hardware depending if it is PnP compatable it should detect the drivers and install them automatically.
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Vorenus earned 2000 total points
ID: 19570362
For this to work, it would be preferable that the driver for your devices are signed.
Are they ?

You can use the registry key located at : HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\, value name DevicePath to append the path of your driver.

You can use environmental variables since it is an entry of REG_EXPAND_SZ type.

For example, you can set this value to :

%SystemRoot%\inf;%SystemDrive%\Drivers\DicotaHarbour

which is what I use to silently install the drivers of some of the docking Hubs we use.

Of course, you can append several values there, but always make sure to not touch the first entry (%SystemRoot%\inf) since it is for the windows built-in drivers.

Obviously, you can use a script to append your driver location inside the registry key.

Hope this helps,

Vorenus.
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by:homewrecker
ID: 19570383
Well there's not really a software package that you install. The device is an older FTDI based usb to serial converter... basically a usb plug that gives you an RS232 serial port on the other side. It did not come with drivers, but I found that if you allow the Found New Hardware Wizard to connect to the internet, it will find something compatible and load it. The problem is that the machines I need to install this on do not have internet access.
So what I've done is copied the driver files and the associated .inf file and copied it to a network location. On subsecquent machine that do not have internet access, I told the FNHWW that I want to specifiy the location of the driver and I point it there. This works, but I do not want to have to manually run through this on each and every pc.
What I am looking for is some way to copy the driver and inf files to the other computers so that when the device is plugged in, windows will automatically find and load it without prompting, much like it would if you plugged in a standard microsoft compatible mouse, for example.
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by:homewrecker
ID: 19570403
I will try that out, Vorenus!
By the sounds of it then, if I just copy the driver files to the current DevicePath (\windows\inf), this should work without me having to even modify the registry keys, right?
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Expert Comment

by:Vorenus
ID: 19570506
Theoretically, it should be yeah, but I advise you to test it, because I never tried it myself because it makes housekeeping tedious (the inf directory has many drivers in it and if you add your drivers there, you will have an hard time to find its related files if you want to delete this driver someday or upgrade it for users who didn't plug the device already).

I don't know how your drivers are laid out (some have a cleaner directory structure than others), some are really messy and you may not want to include them to the inf directory to keep it somewhat clean, but that's a choice you have to make for yourself then.

Please note though that the inf file for your driver has to be at the root of one of the directories stored in the DevicePath registry entry (some drivers store the inf in a directory and the actual drivers system files in a subdirectory).

Here is a link that gives you another route as well :
http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa906201.aspx

Cheers,

Vorenus.
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Author Comment

by:homewrecker
ID: 19611814
Vorenus, you are a genius! That is exactly what I was looking for and did the trick.

Just for anyone else who might be reading this, my above plan of copying the driver files directly into the \WINDOWS\INF folder did not work. For some reason, even though the .CAT files were there, windows was seeing these drivers as UNSIGNED when copied there.

Putting them in their own separate folder and appending that location to the DevicePath registry key Vorenus mentioned above worked out perfectly for me. It was easy enough for me to make a .REG file and run them on all the pc's getting this installation and then copying the drivers over ahead of time, before the hardware was installed. Much better than having to go through the Add New Hardware Wizard each time.
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Expert Comment

by:Vorenus
ID: 19612831
Great, thanks for the feedback and glad if it has been helpful.

Cheers,
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