For you to understand Windows drivers, you will first need to get a clear picture of what drivers are. A typical computer is made of hardware components which are coded in a specific language called machine assembly language. The operating system exists to make it easier for the user to communicate with the computer.
However, every hardware component that you add to the computer may not be recognized immediately by the operating system because they require an interface for communication. For example, if you add a graphics card to your computer, the computer may recognize its purpose and even model number but it will not able to communicate with it and make it serve its purpose.
Therefore, we need a driver for this piece of hardware to be interfaced with the Windows operating system. The most obvious question is – why cannot Microsoft bundle its operating system with Windows drivers for every hardware component?
If you think about it, there are hundreds of thousands of hardware components available in the market and if you take 1 MB as the size of a hardware component’s driver, Windows would not come in a CD but probably on a terabyte hard disk. It is however possible for you to download specific Windows drivers for the hardware components that you buy.
On installing it, you would find that the 1 MB that we talked about is a gross understatement because even drivers for a simple audio device would be more than 40 times that.
Starting right from the simplest of devices like your mouse and keyboard, Windows drivers exist for every hardware device conceivable. It is to be understood that there are some drivers that do come bundled along with Windows so that it facilitates the use of the respective components.
For instance, input devices like the mouse and the keyboard have to be used to install the operating system in the sense that you would be required to choose from different options and even enter some information into text boxes. And for you to be able to see everything on screen, the VGA monitor driver comes along with the other Windows drivers bundle.
Typically, any driver that interfaces a hardware component and the Windows operating system can be called as a Windows driver.