A device driver, more typically referred to simply as a driver, is a program routine that allows communication between the hardware components of a computer (including both internal and peripheral components) and the operating system.
Historically, drivers were a huge hassle for end users as it required careful work to match up the appropriate drivers for the hardware and the operating system (and to avoid creating any conflicts within the system during the process). Each successive generation of operating systems has made driver deployment easier. From Windows 98 forward, for example, Microsoft provided a framework for developers to create source-level drivers in Windows to smooth transitions between versions and improve the user experience. Between improved driver deployment and extensive plug and play support, it is easier than ever to add hardware and peripherals to your system without tearing your hair out.
- By Jason Fitzpatrick on 02/11/13