Over the weekend, I set a personal goal to upgrade all of my personal machines to Windows 8.1. Two installs went perfect! One went very very bad. As in “sad face blue screen of death” kind of bad…
After doing a clean install, I was left with quite a few unknown and uninstalled devices. Taking a few pages for our automated hardware installation setup, I began reinstalling the hardware. Here is the quickest and cleanest way that I’ve found to install unknown devices on Windows 8 (and 8.1) machines.
Start in Device Manager
As we begin our driver installation journey, we need to find out some more information about the unknown device. In Windows 8, you can jump straight to device manager by pressing Windows Key + X and then M. Unknown and uninstalled devices will be listed under Other. The device will have a yellow alert symbol on it. The properties for the device will show that no driver was found.
Under the Device Properties, select the Details tab and scroll down to Hardware IDs. You might notice a few random looking strings here. If you only have one string, don’t worry – that is also normal. Each Hardware ID is comprised of some very useful information. The VID value provides the vendor ID and the PID value provides the Product ID of the device. Make a note of the PID value. In the picture below, I would copy down PID_2E51
End with the Update Catalog
If you have ever injected updates into your image, you have probably used the Microsoft Update Catalog. With your PID in hand, fire up Internet Explorer and head on over to the Update Catalog. In the top right, enter your PID value in the search box. In cases where you have multiple device types listed, narrow down your search by also adding in the VID value (or other values in the Hardware ID).
As you can see in the picture above, my unknown device is a Marvell Wireless adapter. I will grab the top driver as it is the most the recent. Once downloaded and extracted, I can point Device Manager to this driver to install my hardware! As a cool bonus, most of these drivers also lack that bloat-ware found in other packages.
If you installing unknown devices in a managed environment, be sure to copy the installed driver from C:\Windows\System32\DriverStore\FileRepository to your network driver share. If you redirect the DevicePath registry key to this share, you won’t ever need to install this hardware again!
This is how I quickly install unknown devices in on my machines. How do you currently do it?