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Windows 7: How to incorporate device drivers for hardware that doesn't exist

24 Jun 2014   #1

Windows 7
How to incorporate device drivers for hardware that doesn't exist

Is there a way to manually incorporate or install a bunch of drivers on a Windows 7 machine without going through Device Manager and without the hardware actually being installed?

Example: I’d like my Windows 7 machine to have the device driver for a Broadcom and Intel NIC even though the machine only has an Intel network adapter installed. Likewise, I’d like to have an NVIDIA and Intel video card driver available even though I only have one installed. Or have drivers for three different chipsets installed. Or install all drivers for a specific HP computer and all drivers for a specific Dell computer. Get the picture?

This way, when I deploy my OS to a machine that has the custom hardware I have installed I no longer have to install the device drivers. I tried installing it by running the .exe or .msi files from the manufacturer but some won't install because the hardware doesn't exist. I also tried going through Device Manager and manually adding it but got the same results since there is no hardware to find. I'm guessing there might be a way to manually copy the .inf, .sys, etc files to some System32 directory and then registering .dll files manually--or something like that.

Please don’t ask me why, tell me it will screw up my system or not to do it, or recommend an alternative solution. I know exactly what I want and that’s what I want.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Jun 2014   #2

Windows 10 Pro

I'm not sure why you would want to do this, but as you found out, it can't be done in a conventional way since the hardware isn't installed. Basically since no such hardware exists, you can't install a driver for it.

I suppose you could try creating a driver repository, but I've no idea how to do such a thing.

Good luck.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Jun 2014   #3

Windows 7

In the past I use to type the following commands in DOS: "pnputil -i -a name-of-folder\*.inf"

That command is like slipping the drivers through the back door even without the hardware installed, but it can be time consuming unless you script it. Thus, I am trying to look for some other alternative.

The reason I would like to do this is because I am deploying a custom Windows 7 image to my environment with about 4 to 5 different machine models. What I've managed to do in the past with XP is set up my OS on one machine (eq. HP) with all drivers installed properly, image that and use Acronis Universal Restore to restore it to another hardware (eq. DELL), install all drivers for that machine, and then do it all over again for the remaining machines. That worked flawlessly whenever my techs image new machines. XP knows which drivers to load once it detects which hardware is running.

Windows 7 has better image deployment support features and allows you to deploy a custom image to dissimilar hardware natively without too many tools. Hence, I am challenged to experiment and find a better way of doing it this time around instead of doing backups and restores on different machines again or trying to use third party tools that requires thousands of steps and an install to my gold image.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

25 Jun 2014   #4

Windows 10 Pro

Well I wish you luck on finding a more efficient solution, unfortunately I've got no suggestions on how.

Good luck.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Jun 2014   #5

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient


Windows 7 is pretty good in finding the correct drivers, it's quite often when installing 7 that the user does not have to manually install any drivers. I'm a long time HP user and I have to say I do not even remember when I have needed to install anything else than those drivers Windows did not install automatically but which can be found in Windows Update's Optional Updates.

Regarding the general deployment image, I would forget all HW drivers and create a hardware independent image using Sysprep with the Generalize switch.

Read more:Kari
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 How to incorporate device drivers for hardware that doesn't exist

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