Windows Hardware Design Articles

For each device class in the Windows platform, hardware designers and driver developers require unique implementation tips and tools for ensuring reliability and good performance. You can find information here about issues that are important for designers and driver developers who create products that run on systems running Windows.

This documentation was developed in support of Windows 8 and previous operating systems. See Windows 8.1 for hardware devs to learn about how Windows 8.1 takes advantage of the latest technologies.

In this section

Topic Description

Audio Device Technologies

This section contains information about audio device technologies such as Universal Audio Architecture (UAA) and High Definition Audio (HD Audio).

Broadcast Media Devices

Protected Broadcast Driver Architecture (PBDA) is Microsoft's worldwide platform for integrating broadcast TV services into Windows Media Center on a Windows PC.

Device and Driver Installation

To ensure the best possible user experience, installation of both a hardware device and its software driver should run as seamlessly as possible with minimal user intervention. We provide tools and guidelines to help you create installation packages that meet this goal.

Device Connectivity

The topics in this section describe device-to-PC pairing technologies that use device discovery and wireless networking.

Display and Graphics

The topics in this section describe display and graphics features for Windows 8.

Firmware and Boot Environment

For Plug and Play and power management support under Microsoft Windows operating systems, the system and its firmware must comply with Advanced Configuration and Power Interface Specification (ACPI).

Hardware Management and Security

Windows Server 2008 introduced Windows Hardware Error Architecture (WHEA) as a common infrastructure for handling hardware errors.

Key Driver Concepts and Tips

If you are new to Windows driver development, start here for pointers to first steps for concepts, tools, and driver models.

Media Center

The topics in this section provide information about building a Windows Media Center PC.

Mobile and Tablet

The topics in this section describe mobile and tablet PC platform design.


This section contains information about building devices that support networking for Windows operating systems.

Optical Platform on Windows

Using Windows Optical Platform, application developers can add support for optical devices and media without having to develop optical ecosystem expertise.


This section contains information to help system designers and manufacturers optimize systems for best performance.

Plug and Play

Plug and Play provides automatic configuration of PC hardware and devices. To work with Windows, the system and its firmware must comply with Advanced Configuration and Power Interface Specification (ACPI).

Power Management and ACPI

A comprehensive approach to system configuration and device power control is built into Microsoft Windows operating systems, based on the ACPI system interface and other new bus and device specifications.


A hardware vendor can easily add support for new hardware by replacing Microsoft-provided spooler and driver components. To support a new printer, usually all you need to do is create new data files that work with one of the Microsoft-supplied printer drivers.

Sensor and Location Platform

The Windows Sensor and Location platform simplifies the integration and use of sensors.

Smart Card Devices

To work with the smart card support in Windows, smart card readers and cards should be compatible with Interoperability Specification for ICCs and Personal Computer Systems.

Storage Technologies

The storage architecture in Windows provides a wide array of device options in both the consumer and server editions.

System Internals

The topics in this section describe system hardware, firmware, and driver design.

Touch, Input, and HID

Windows supports uniform access to input devices that are based on the Human Interface Devices (sometimes called the Human Input Devices) or HID specification. Vendors can extend the functionality of devices by adding filter drivers to the Windows layered driver architecture.


Windows takes advantage of virtualization assistance in hardware that is based on Intel Virtualization Technology (Intel VT) and AMD Virtualization technology (AMD-V).

Windows Color System

Color management technologies in Windows help users reproduce color consistently across scanners, cameras, displays, printers, and applications.

Windows Imaging

Windows Imaging includes Windows Image Acquisition (WIA) and Windows Imaging Component (WIC).

Windows Portable Devices

Windows Portable Devices (WPD) is a driver technology that supports a wide range of portable devices such as mobile phones, digital cameras, and portable media players.

Windows Server Platform

Windows Server 2008 advances control and manageability, increases flexibility, and provides a solid foundation for more secure, more robust server environments.




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