You'll need to use the Windows Device Manager to make changes to a hardware peripheral or a component. For Windows XP, navigate to the Control Panel and select 'Systems'. Once you're in the 'Systems Properties' area, select the Hardware tab at the top of the dialog. Next, select the 'Device Manager' option.
If you're using Windows Vista, select Start, Control Panel, System And Maintenance, Device Manager. Select the Continue button if the UAC (User Account Control) dialog box appears. You should now see the Windows Device Manager.
With the Device Manager open, you'll be able to see a full list of your computer's installed hardware and peripheral components.
Select the plus sign adjacent to the category of device that you have installed. by way of example, let's use a mouse. Under mice, double-click the name of the mouse you just installed and select the 'Driver' tab at the top of the dialog box that opens. To finish up, select the 'Uninstall' option to start the process of removing old the driver from your system. Next, you should reboot Windows.
Almost all new applications and peripherals are now Windows XP compatible, and most even have the 'Designed for Microsoft Windows XP' logo right on the box, so be sure to watch out for that logo.
That said, if you just picked up or inherited a perfectly good, older device that you'd like to use, you may indeed run into the Windows Driver Incompatibility dialog.
Although most hardware and device vendors work hard to keep their products up-to-date with the lastest Microsoft operating systems, they often have to draw the line as to how far back their driver archives will go, and whether they should make very old devices in their catalogue compatible with the lastest versions of Windows. Almost always though, device manufacturers offer links to downloads of new and archived drivers in the Support or Downloads section of their respective websites.
If, for some reason, the devices vendor doesn't list the driver you need on their site, Microsoft's Windows Update website may contain a version from the past that will suit your needs. Other third party drivers sites have archives as well, or you could use our favorite automatic driver update tool, Driver Genius. It does all the grunt work for you!