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What is the purpose of .inf file for HP driver install?

Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2013-12-15
I had to install a driver on my computer (Windows XP operating system) for the HP Photosmart 8750 printer. I downloaded the driver from HP website and ran the .exe. The .exe unzipped several files into a temp directory that included a .inf. Typically, when I clicked on an .exe it do a full driver install from a - z. This time, however, it stopped once the temp directory of files was set up. My questions:

1. What is this type .inf file and its purpose?
2. Why did HP not just write an .exe that carried the install all the way?
3. How do you use Window XP add printer functionality to install the driver using the .inf?
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