Windows 7 device Experience
There was a time when people relied on their desktops and laptops for information, communication and entertainment. But mobiles, PMP's and other devices have taken over that domain and boast of rich applications, services and data capabilities of their own while having the ability to connect to your computer locally or wirelessly and syncing seamlessly. While Windows XP and Vista provided a component and functioncentric view of devices courtesy the 'Device Manager', Windows 7 takes it a step further with 'Devices and Printers' and 'Device Stage' which enables you to use and manage devices in a more enjoyable way. Installation of new devices such as printers, cameras, phones, music players and access to their configuration settings, applications and common tasks specific to the device was never this natural with very little to no learning curve. It even helps the device makers to integrate their device experience, unique features, services and branding directly into Windows in a flexible but consistent manner.
Devices and Printers
The new Devices and Printers folder available from the Start Menu shows you all the external devices connected to your PC, mainly the ones users can touch and feel and not abstract components inside the computer. It is a handy way to check on portable devices which you carry with you and occasionally connect to your computer, such as mobile phones, portable music players, photo frames and digital cameras besides all the devices connected via USB, or paired via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth wireless interface including external USB hard drives, flash drives, webcams, keyboards, and mice.
As the name suggests, it also displays all printers connected to your computer, whether it is via USB, the network or wirelessly. Some compatible network-enabled scanners, media extenders and Network Attached storage devices (NAT) are also supported by this. A multifunction printer now shows up as a single device in Devices and Printrs, not as a collection of three or four components like it is displayed in the more conventional Device Manager. However, the Devices and Printers folder doesn't display the devices installed inside your computer case, such as internal hard drives, disc drives, sound cards, video cards (graphics cards), memory (RAM), processors, and other internal computer components for which you still need to head towards the 'Device Manager' located in the Control Panel. Certain devices such as speakers connected to your computer with conventional speaker wires and keyboards and mice connected through a PS/2 or serial port are also not supported by this yet.
Device manufacturers do not have to do anything for their devices to show up in ‘Devices and Printers’. But if they want to, they can customize the experience the user will have by using a new set of custom XML schemas. They can also develop custom context menu handlers like a list of tasks that vary depending on the capability of the device to be shown when the user right-clicks on the device. For example, you might be able to see what's printing on a network printer; view files stored on a USB flash drive, or open a program from the device manufacturer. For mobile phones that support the new Device Stage feature in Windows, you can also open advanced, phone-specific features in Windows from the right-click menu, such as the ability to sync with the phone or change ringtones.
Besides letting you view information about your devices, such as make, model, and manufacturer, including detailed information about the sync capabilities of a mobile phone or other mobile device, Devices and Printers is also an excellent place to check if a specific device is working properly and then troubleshoot problems in case they arise.
Many operating systems have pre-installed drivers for printers, scanners and other products, but Device Stage takes the concept to a ridiculously thorough level, with not just drivers but specialized icons, pop-up menus and XML pages full of things you can do with your camera, printer, scanner, phone or whatever. When you plug in a Windows 7 compatible device, you'll see its status and a list of popular tasks. If the manufacturer has included a XML schema, you can even see a picture of your device.