In this section we shall work our way through the steps required to install a driver on Windows Vista. As most drivers are installed in much the same way the process documented below is the same regardless of whatever type of device you've installed, whether it may be a wireless network card, a tv tuner card, a video card or any device that requires a driver be installed. If your wireless adapter is a USB or PC card device your machine should be switched on before the device is plugged in. In the instance of a PCI or PCI-x card the card should be installed while the machine is turned off and then the machine switched on.
Once your computer has started successfully insert the CD, DVD or floppy disk that contains the driver for your wireless device into the computer. When the machine first detects your new wireless adapter it will ask "How do you wish to search for driver software?". The first choice, "Search automatically for updated driver software" will search your computer and the windows update catalogue if you have a working internet connection. Selecting this option is a safe choice and the computer will attempt to find the driver by itself. If it locates the driver it will install it automatically. The second option is "Browse my computer for driver software. This option allows you to manually specify the location of the driver if windows fails to find it. In our example we are installing a D-Link DWL-G510 that was manufactured prior to the release of Windows Vista and did not ship with a Vista compatible driver. The appropriate driver was download from the D-link website and unzipped into a directory on the computer. On previous efforts to install the driver we found that windows did not successfully locate the driver so we shall click on "Browse my computer for Driver Software".
The "Browse for driver software on your computer" screen allows you to specify which folder or directory contains the driver for the device. If you know where it is you may simply type it in or alternately you may use the browse button to locate the driver. The other option, "Let me pick from a list of drivers on my computer" can be usefull if you have several different drivers for the device present on your computer or the you need to force a specific version of the driver to be installed. Generally this option is not required and should only be used if necessary.
Selecting the browse button will allow you to show the computer the exact location of the driver, usually somewhere on its hard drive. If you have no option but to download the driver from the internet then downloading and unpacking it to an easy to find location such as your desktop, documents folder or perhaps a downloads folder is highly recommended as it will help you to locate the driver. When you download a driver as with most files it will be most likely compressed so that it is smaller and it will need to be uncompressed (or "unpacked") before the computer can use it. Windows Vista has a utility that will allow you to unpack files in the .ZIP format or you may prefer to install a utility such as Winzip or Winrar to help you manage compressed files. Highlight the folder that contains the driver and click ok, which will return you to the "Browse for a driver" screen. Click next on the bottom of this screen to install the driver.
If the driver is compatible with the device you are installing Windows Vista will then install the driver with no further questions. This particular phase of installing a driver should take no more than 30 seconds or a minute. If the machine takes longer than two minutes or so try moving the mouse and make sure the pointer still moves accross the screen. If it doesnt the machine may have locked up and may need to be restarted with the reset button. If the machine continuously fails start or install the driver correctly there may a number of causes for this and you should consider removing the device and starting the machine again without it to make sure that it still starts correctly then reinstall your hardware in a different PCI slot, USB port or PC Card slot.
Driver installation Complete! Click close on this box and your wireless adapter is installed and ready to go. You should now be able to move onto configuring your wireless card.