Plug and Play in Windows Server 2008

Applies To: Windows Server 2008

This section of the white paper provides information about the benefits and purposes of Plug and Play (PnP).

Information about how PnP communicates with sites on the Internet is provided in another section of this white paper, Device Manager, Hardware Wizards, and Resulting Internet Communication in Windows Server 2008.

Benefits and Purposes of Plug and Play

Windows PnP provides ease-of-support for installing devices on computers in your network. Installing a PnP device typically does not require user input. You can plug a PnP device into your computer, and Windows searches for a driver (by default, the search starts locally and then goes to the Windows Update Web site if necessary), installs the driver, updates the system, and allocates resources.

PnP in Windows ServerĀ 2008 provides the following functionality:

  • Detects a PnP device and determines its hardware resource requirements and device identification number (PnP ID).

  • Locates an appropriate device driver for newly installed devices.

  • Allocates hardware resources.

  • Dynamically loads, initializes, and unloads drivers.

  • Notifies other drivers and applications when a new device is available.

  • Handles stop and start processes for devices during hibernation, standby, and startup and shutdown operations (in conjunction with power management).

  • Supports a wide range of device types.

To install devices using the hardware wizards, you must be logged on as an administrator or a member of the Administrators group. You can then use the hardware wizards to search the Windows Update Web site for device drivers. All drivers obtained through Windows Update are signed by Windows Hardware Quality Labs (WHQL). The WHQL provides compatibility testing services to test hardware and drivers for Windows operating systems.


Some buses, such as Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) and universal serial bus (USB), take full advantage of PnP. Older buses, such as Industry Standard Architecture (ISA) require more user interaction to ensure that devices are correctly installed.

Additional References