Microsoft Windows and the Plug and Play
Corporate Backgrounder
Microsoft Windows and the Plug and Play
Framework Architecture
®
TM
Stand-alone laptop
Laptop with CD-ROM
Laptop plugged into
corporate network
March, 1994
0394 Part No. 098-55723
Contents
Overview. . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
PC hardware and software configuration difficulties
The Plug and Play solution
2
2
2
The Plug and Play Framework. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Components and requirements of a Plug and Play system
3
Plug and Play: progress to date
The transition to Plug and Play systems
Functional aspects of a Plug and Play solution
3
4
4
5
The Next Release of Microsoft Windows: A Plug and Play Operating System . . . . . . .
6
Plug and Play Devices. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Plug and Play: Summary. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Conclusion. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
1
Microsoft Windows and The Plug and Play Framework Architecture
10
Overview
Personal computers have revolutionized the way people work. Today, PCs are being used in a wide range
of settings and have become the primary business tool. Small and large companies are using PCs to
automate routine tasks through productivity applications, and to solve complex business problems through
customized, vertical market applications. Personal computer networks have enabled companies to work
together and communicate more efficiently, bringing office productivity to new levels. Furthermore, as
hardware technology has advanced, PCs have become both more powerful and less expensive, accelerating
their adoption on a worldwide basis.
®
The wide-spread adoption of the Microsoft WindowsTM operating system has gone hand-in-hand with the
advances in hardware technology. This corresponding advance in the personal computer operating system
has enabled a new class of graphical applications that are easier to use and offer greater benefits to users.
Additionally, new computer peripherals including CD-ROM, sound and full-motion video devices have
further enhanced the potential of PCs, both in the office and in the home.
PC hardware and software configuration difficulties
With these innovations, however, have come new industry challenges. Specifically, configuring PC
hardware and operating systems to work with different networks and with different peripheral devices can
be a significant problem. Changing the hardware configuration of a machine is a task that few end-users
attempt, and even trained technicians can find difficult, time-consuming and frustrating. With the growing
use of mobile computers, such as notebooks and laptops, this problem is compounded because users of
these computers typically need to change their PC configurations on a more frequent basis. These mobile
devices are often unplugged from corporate networks and peripheral devices in the office, and re-configured
to enable computing and remote communication from the home or while on the road.
Whether changing the configuration of a notebook computer from an office to a mobile setting, or simply
adding a CD-ROM or other device to an existing desktop computer, common PC configuration difficulties
have resulted in lower customer satisfaction and increased support costs.
The Plug and Play solution
A broad base of companies within the computer industry, however, is addressing these problems with a
technology known as the Plug and Play Framework Architecture. As the leading developer of personal
computer operating systems, Microsoft has played a key role in organizing support for the Plug and Play
framework. To realize the goals of Plug and Play, a fully functional Plug and Play operating system is a
critical requirement. Microsoft is working closely with the many participating hardware manufacturers, and
will release a complete Plug and Play operating system as the next version of Microsoft Windows.
2
Microsoft Windows and The Plug and Play Framework Architecture
The Plug and Play Framework
Plug and Play is both a design philosophy and a set of PC architecture specifications. The ultimate goal of
Plug and Play is to design intelligence into the PC itself to handle installation and configuration tasks
without user intervention. A Plug and Play system has a number of characteristics. First, any installation is
a simple, fail-safe operation. For devices the installation is automatic: plug the device in, turn on the
system, and it works. With a Plug and Play system, the user can insert and remove devices, or connect to or
disconnect from a docking station or network, without restarting the system or fiddling with configuration
parameters. The system determines the optimal configuration, and applications automatically adjust to take
full advantage of the new configuration. Users do not need to modify expansion card jumper settings, or
even modify operating system configuration files. The benefits to both users and computer industry
members will be substantial, as PC ease-of-use will be enhanced while support costs will be substantially
lowered.
The components and requirements of a Plug and Play system
The three core components of a Plug and Play system are:
•
•
•
A Plug and Play operating system
Plug and Play hardware devices
A Plug and Play Basic Input Output System (BIOS)
The Plug and Play Components
Operating System
BIOS
Devices
A Plug and Play system has three major components: a Plug
and Play BIOS; Plug and Play hardware devices; and a Plug
and Play operating system which automatically configures the
computer.
3
Plug and Play devices must be capable of
identifying themselves and declaring their
resource requirements. For most device types,
including all ISA hardware, this capability
requires modifications to the hardware devices
themselves. This is because the current
generation of these hardware devices is simply
not capable of communicating this information.
Also, a redesigned BIOS is necessary to accept
and respond to the resource requirements
communicated by the new Plug and Play
devices. Furthermore, a complete Plug and Play
operating system is required to orchestrate all
components in the system by loading and
configuring Plug and Play device drivers, and by
responding to hardware changes by
automatically reconfiguring the system without
user intervention. In systems incorporating all
three core Plug and Play components including
devices, BIOS and a Plug and Play operating
system, installing new devices will be as easy as
plugging them in and turning on the system.
Microsoft Windows and The Plug and Play Framework Architecture
Plug and Play: progress to date
The effort to create Plug and Play personal computer systems is well under way. Because Plug and Play
requires that new intelligence be built into hardware devices, the PC Basic Input Output System (BIOS),
and the personal computer operating system, broad industry collaboration is necessary to advance the Plug
and Play concept. Microsoft, as the leader in PC operating systems, is playing an active role in organizing
and participating in the Plug and Play effort. Microsoft will release the first Plug and Play operating system
®
for IBM -compatible personal computers as the next version of Microsoft Windows.
The Plug and Play effort was formally introduced in March 1993 at the Windows Hardware Engineering
Conference to more than 1,300 attendees. Microsoft presented the general Plug and Play framework, and
with Intel Corporation, also presented the first application of that framework in the form of the Plug and
Play ISA Specification. Through a forum called the Open Process, Microsoft exposes new systems
technologies to a formal, open industry review early in the development cycle, and refines these
technologies based on industry and customer feedback. As an open specification, the ISA Plug and Play
specification, and all subsequent Plug and Play specifications for different types of hardware, were refined
through the Open Process.
Microsoft and Intel revised the specification based on the feedback received, and subsequently released
version 1.0 of the Plug and Play ISA Specification. The first implementation workshop to discuss and teach
implementation of the specification was attended by over 150 engineers from more than 80 different
hardware vendors. Additionally, representatives from 100 key hardware vendors attended the two-day
Microsoft Design Review event which covered the overall Plug and Play framework in detail.
Today, additional Plug and Play specifications for SCSI devices, IDE devices, printers, serial devices and
the Plug and Play BIOS have been refined through the Open Process and released to the industry. Other
device types, including PCMCIA, PCI, and Microchannel, are largely Plug and Play ready, and new
hardware specifications were not needed for these devices. Instead, complete Plug and Play functionality
will be achieved for these device types through redesigned system software that will be an integral part of
the next version of Microsoft Windows. These new core operating system capabilities will enable the next
version of Microsoft Windows to integrate these devices into complete Plug and Play systems.
The transition to Plug and Play systems
The components of the Plug and Play architecture are based on published interfaces and abstracted to a
level that enables the architecture to accommodate the different bus and device architectures existing today,
as well as future designs. The architecture was designed so that new Plug and Play devices will cost little
more than their non-Plug and Play counterparts. In addition, the Plug and Play architecture provides
complete compatibility with the installed base of existing, non-Plug and Play systems and peripherals. To
allow Plug and Play devices and non-Plug and Play devices to coexist within a single computer, the next
version of Microsoft Windows will accommodate non-Plug and Play devices by storing their configuration
information in the system. Those devices not supporting the Plug and Play software-configuration
capability will receive first priority in resource allocation. After assigning resources to non-Plug and Play
devices, the Windows operating system will program Plug and Play devices with non-conflicting
configurations. In the rare instance of an unresolvable conflict between two non-Plug and Play devices, the
Windows operating system will help guide the user through device-configuration options. Over time, new
systems with only Plug and Play devices will become pervasive, eliminating any need for such user
intervention.
4
Microsoft Windows and The Plug and Play Framework Architecture
Plug and Play: enabling dynamic
configuration changes
Mobile Systems and Plug and Play
Besides achieving fail-safe, automatic
configuration of hardware devices, Plug and
Play systems will also be able to accommodate
dynamic configuration changes. This capability
is critical for mobile systems, since users of
laptops and notebook computers need the
ability to plug into corporate networks and
docking stations without turning the computer
off or reconfiguring hardware and software.
Through Plug and Play, such “hot-docking” of
mobile computers will be enabled. In addition,
when any new device is inserted, the Windows
operating system will recognize the new device
and its resource requirements, and dynamically
load the necessary device drivers.
Stand-alone laptop
Laptop with CD-ROM
Laptop plugged into
corporate network
Plug and Play systems will be able to dynamically adapt to
changing hardware and network configurations. Pictured above,
a laptop running the next version of Microsoft Windows, with a
Plug and Play CD-ROM, will be able to easily adapt to various
configuration changes without any user intervention.
Applications will be notified about these
dynamic events, so they can take advantage of
the new functionality or stop attempting to use
unavailable devices. Users will no longer be
required to turn off and reboot their systems
when changing configurations, and will not
need to intervene in the configuration process.
Functional aspects of a Plug and Play solution
The basic functions that must be coordinated and performed by the three Plug and Play components include
the following:
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•
•
•
•
Identification of installed devices
Determination of device resource requirements
Creation of a complete system configuration, eliminating all resource conflicts
Loading of device drivers
Notification of configuration changes
As devices are added and removed, this process is repeated. The operating system must centrally manage
this configuration process to ensure smooth coordination. A certain amount of configuration must first be
performed by the system BIOS during the power-up phase. In order for the system to boot, the BIOS must
at a minimum configure a display device, input device and initial program load device. Then, it must pass
the information about each of these devices to the operating system for additional configuration of the
system.
The operating system then continues the configuration process by identifying every device in the system and
their respective resource requirements. Each non-boot device must be inactive upon power-up so that the
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Microsoft Windows and The Plug and Play Framework Architecture
operating system can identify any conflicts between the resource requirements of different devices before
configuring them. In the event that different devices require the same resources, the devices must be able to
provide information to the operating system about alternative resource requirements, which the operating
system uses to identify a working system configuration. Once any resource conflicts have been resolved,
the operating system automatically programs each hardware device with its working configuration, and then
stores all configuration information in the central database. Finally, the operating system loads the device
drivers for each device, and notifies these drivers of the resource assignments.
If a change occurs to the system configuration during operation, the hardware must be able to notify the
operating system of the event so that the operating system can configure the new device. Additionally,
applications must be able to respond to configuration changes to take advantage of new devices and to cease
calling devices that have been removed. Such dynamic configuration events might include the insertion of
a PCMCIA card, the addition or removal of a peripheral such as a mouse, CD-ROM drive or printer, or a
docking event for a notebook computer.
The Next Release of Microsoft Windows: A Plug and Play Operating
System
The next release of the Windows operating system will include several new components to provide
complete Plug and Play functionality.
These components include the following:
The Plug and Play Components of Microsoft Windows
Resource
Arbitrator
Bus
Enumerator
Windows-based PC
The next version of Microsoft Windows will be the first Plug and
Play operating system for IBM-compatible personal computers,
making PCs easier to configure and maintain.
6
The Configuration Manager
The Hardware Tree
Bus Enumerators
Resource Arbitrators
In addition, a number of components will be
modified, including device drivers, the
operating system setup program and
portions of the user interface.
Configuration
Manager
Hardware
Tree
•
•
•
•
The Configuration Manager
The Configuration Manager is the central
software component handling all phases of
the configuration process. It orchestrates
the entire flow of operations performed by
all the components involved in the
configuration process, and accepts and
responds to communications from the BIOS
and hardware devices during the
configuration process. It also responds to
dynamic events during operation including
the insertion or removal of devices, and the
docking or undocking of mobile computers.
As these events occur, the Configuration
Manager communicates the information to
applications.
Microsoft Windows and The Plug and Play Framework Architecture
The Hardware Tree
The hardware tree is a record of the current system configuration. The tree information is drawn from a
central database of configuration information for all devices, called the Registry. The Registry is stored
locally for each computer, and holds information about all device types, whether they are currently installed
or not. The hardware tree is created by the Configuration Manager every time the system boots or a runtime change occurs to the system configuration. The existence of the Registry will eliminate the need for
most of the device-specific initialization files used today.
Bus Enumerators
Bus enumerators are responsible for building (“enumerating”) the hardware tree on a Plug and Play system.
The bus enumerators are a new type of driver. The different enumerators are based on specific bus
architectures, and understand the implementation details of their bus type. Thus, an ISA enumerator can
identify the devices on an ISA bus, read their resource requirements, and configure them as instructed by
the Configuration Manager. Similarly, there will be enumerators for Microchannel, VESA Local and PCI
bus types; SCSI and PCMCIA devices; and serial and parallel ports. During installation, Windows will
automatically determine which bus enumerators are applicable for a given computer.
Resource Arbitrator
The Resource Arbitrator allocates specific types of resources to devices, and resolves conflicts between
devices that request identical resource assignments. The functional separation of the Resource Arbitrator
and the Configuration Manager provides for future extensibility of the Windows operating system to
address new types of resources.
Changes to other operating system components
A new operating system setup program will create the central configuration database during initial system
setup. Although under normal circumstances the system will not require intervention by the user to perform
any initial setup configuration operations, there are some exceptions. For example, if the user is installing a
non-Plug and Play device and the system fails to detect that device, the user can force an installation by
pushing a button in the control panel or dragging an installation icon into the system folder from a floppy
disk. Thus, the next version of Microsoft Windows will not only automate the process of installing and
configuring Plug and Play devices, it will also standardize the system interface for installing and
configuring non-Plug and Play devices.
At times the system may be unable to generate a non-conflicting configuration for a non-Plug and Play
device. In this case, a new Windows user-interface component will communicate the event to the user, and
present the user with several options to resolve the problem. The Plug and Play Windows operating system
will also have an interface component that will allow more advanced users to edit and change the system
configuration.
7
Microsoft Windows and The Plug and Play Framework Architecture
Plug and Play Devices
ISA
A specification for design of Plug and Play ISA devices has been published, reviewed and refined through
the Open Process, and released to the industry. This specification defines a hardware and software design
to be incorporated into the next generation of ISA devices, referred to as Plug and Play ISA devices. Plug
and Play ISA devices can run on existing PCs, and are available today. Over the coming months, Plug and
Play ISA devices will replace standard ISA devices as the predominant device type.
PCI
The current PCI bus architecture meets most of the requirements for providing Plug and Play functionality.
To become fully Plug and Play capable, a bus enumerator for PCI is being written by Intel to be
incorporated into the next version of Microsoft Windows.
Microchannel
Microchannel devices already provide a standard identification mechanism and a mechanism for
configuring resources through software. To integrate with the Plug and Play architecture, a bus enumerator
for the Microchannel bus is being written by IBM to be incorporated into the next version of Microsoft
Windows.
VESA Local Bus
The VESA Committee is adopting the Plug and Play ISA specification in order to adapt it to the VL-bus
type. An enumerator will be provided in the next version of Microsoft Windows.
IDE
The IDE Plug and Play specification has been refined through the Open Process and released to the
industry. IDE controllers already provide a way to support multiple disk drives, and the IDE standard will
also be able to provide a low-cost solution for adding Plug and Play CD-ROM drives. Full IDE Plug and
Play capabilities will be incorporated into the next version of Microsoft Windows.
SCSI
SCSI devices require both design changes and general ease-of-use enhancements to deliver Plug and Play
functionality. The Plug and Play SCSI specification, refined through the Open Process, specifies these
requirements. Full SCSI Plug and Play capabilities will be incorporated into the next version of Microsoft
Windows.
PCMCIA
In order for PCMCIA devices to be supported under the Plug and Play framework, Microsoft is writing a
bus enumerator to be incorporated into the next version of Microsoft Windows. The approach to
supporting PCMCIA under the Plug and Play framework calls for the PCMCIA device to be treated like any
other Plug and Play device during the configuration process. Thus, resources can be allocated and
reclaimed dynamically by the operating system, allowing for easy addition of devices through hot-swapping,
and support for hot or warm docking of mobile computers.
8
Microsoft Windows and The Plug and Play Framework Architecture
Serial and Parallel Ports
Specifications for peripherals connecting through serial and parallel ports, including Plug and Play printers,
have also been refined through the Open Process, and released to the industry. The next version of
Microsoft Windows will support Plug and Play automatic configuration and device driver loading
capabilities for these peripherals.
Plug and Play: Summary
Plug and Play technology will affect the entire personal computer industry. The technology will increase
customer satisfaction by making PCs even easier to use and maintain; and will lower support and
maintenance costs for both vendors and users. Plug and Play will provide a flexible, robust platform for
increased functionality and industry-wide innovation.
Systems incorporating the next release of Microsoft Windows as well as the Plug and Play BIOS and Plug
and Play devices will achieve the full benefits of Plug and Play. These systems will be able to automatically
configure hardware devices without any user intervention, and respond to dynamic configuration events.
Excellent docking system solutions will finally be feasible, because the system will be able to automatically
load and unload device drivers to reflect the different devices attached to the system when it is docked or
undocked. Also, applications will be able to automatically adjust their configurations to reflect the insertion
or removal of devices, such as network cards and fax-modem cards.
Partial Plug and Play functionality can also be achieved on systems that will include only one or two of the
three Plug and Play components. Hardware vendors can begin to deliver some of the benefits of Plug and
Play prior to the release of the next version of Microsoft Windows by incorporating the ability to assign
device resources through special software drivers and a standard device driver interface, eliminating the
need to modify jumper settings on the hardware devices themselves. Also, the next release of Windows will
provide substantial Plug and Play benefits to users of existing systems. In such a system, resource
requirements for non-Plug and Play devices can be accommodated through an improved configuration file
format. This will allow all existing devices to coexist with newer Plug and Play devices.
9
Microsoft Windows and The Plug and Play Framework Architecture
Conclusion
The Plug and Play framework advances the PC architecture in ways that will greatly enhance the ease-ofuse of existing PCs, and enable users to work with PCs in new ways. The results will not only be more
satisfied customers, but also lower support costs and increased demand for PC products. In recognition of
the benefits of Plug and Play, a variety of companies representing all major areas of the industry are
working together to define the architecture and to implement that architecture in their products. Microsoft
is one of the leading members of this industry coalition, and is including full Plug and Play functionality in
the next version of Microsoft Windows. This new version of Windows will bring substantial benefits to
millions of existing systems, as well as future systems based on the Plug and Play hardware specifications.
Through Plug and Play, personal computers will have the potential to even further enhance business
productivity.
For more information
Copies of Plug and Play specifications can be obtained from the libraries in the “plugplay” forum on
®
CompuServe . This forum also serves as the focal point for technical discussions, industry feedback and
technical support of the Plug and Play specifications.
•
•
•
•
•
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®
Plug and Play Device Driver Interface Specification for Microsoft Windows and MS-DOS
Plug and Play ISA Specification
Plug and Play BIOS Specification
Plug and Play SCSI specification
Plug and Play APM specification
Plug and Play IDE Specification
Plug and Play LPT Specification
Plug and Play COM Specification
This document is provided for informational purposes only. The information contained in this document represents the current view of Microsoft Corporation on the issues
discussed as of the date of publication. Because Microsoft must respond to change in market conditions, it should not be interpreted to be a commitment on the part of Microsoft
and Microsoft cannot guarantee the accuracy of any information presented after the date of publication.
INFORMATION PROVIDED IN THIS DOCUMENT IS PROVIDED "AS IS" WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EITHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING
BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND FREEDOM FROM
INFRINGEMENT. The user assumes the entire risk as to the accuracy and the use of this document. This document may be copied and distributed subject to the following
conditions: 1) All text must be copied without modification and all pages must be included; 2) All copies must contain Microsoft's copyright notice and any other notices provided
therein; and 3) This document may not be distributed for profit.
Copyright © Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
Microsoft and MS-DOS are registered trademarks and Windows is a trademark of Microsoft Corporation.
IBM is a registered trademark of International Business Machines Corporation.
CompuServe is a registered trademark of CompuServe, Inc.
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Microsoft Windows and The Plug and Play Framework Architecture
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