Here's our Hardware Tip for.. May 28, 1999
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Plug and Play
Plug and Play is an independent set of computer architecture specifications that hardware manufacturers use to produce computer devices that can be configured with no user intervention. When you install a device, you do not need to know its Plug and Play requirements, because they will be set automatically.

You can install hot-pluggable Plug and Play-compliant devices simply by plugging in the device. For other devices, such as Plug and Play Industry Standard Architecture (ISA) cards, you must plug in or install a device while the computer is off and then turn the computer back on to initialize the device.

For example, a user can do the following:

  • Insert and remove such Plug and Play-compliant devices as PC Cards without having to configure them.
  • Connect to or disconnect from a docking station or network without restarting the computer or changing configuration parameters.
  • Add a new monitor by plugging it in and turning it on.

Windows 95-98 can detect the presence of a Plug and Play-compliant device. This is known as enumerating the device. After enumeration, the device driver can be configured and then loaded dynamically, requiring little or no user input. Certain buses (for example, peripheral component interconnect [PCI] and Universal Serial Bus [USB]) are also automatically enumerated; these buses take full advantage of Plug and Play capability.