Plug and Play and Resulting Internet Communication in Windows 7 and Windows Server 7

Applies To: Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2

This section provides information about how Plug and Play (PnP) for Windows® 7 and Windows Server® 2008 R2 communicates across the Internet, and it explains steps to take to limit, control, or prevent that communication in an organization with many users.

Information about how PnP communicates with Internet sites is provided in another section of this document, Device Manager, Hardware Wizards, and Resulting Internet Communication in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2.

Benefits and purposes of Plug and Play

Plug and Play for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 provides ease-of-support for installing devices on computers in your network. Installing a PnP device typically does not require user input. You can connect a PnP device to your computer, and Windows searches for a driver, downloads (if necessary) and installs the driver, and then allocates resources for the device. By default, PnP searches Windows Update when a new device is connected for the first time.


All drivers that are obtained through Windows Update are signed by Windows Hardware Quality Labs (WHQL). The WHQL tests hardware and drivers for compatibility with Windows operating systems.

PnP also searches administrator or OEM-configured network shares and local paths, and the Driver Store for drivers if one is not found on Windows Update.


For the best performance with certain types of devices, such as removable storage devices, Windows searches locally first.

PnP in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 performs several tasks, including the following:

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

  • Locates an appropriate device driver for each newly installed device.

  • Allocates hardware resources.

  • Dynamically loads, initializes, and unloads drivers.

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

  • Handles stop and start processes for devices during hibernation, standby, start up, and shut down (in conjunction with power management).

  • Stages driver packages in the driver store,

  • Creates a Windows error report when there is a problem installing a device driver.


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 the devices are correctly installed. You may need to log on as an administrator or as a member of the Administrators group to install these devices.

Additional references