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Exploring Windows XP's Device Driver Rollback and System Restore

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Windows XP is significantly different at the kernel level from Windows NT and Windows 2000, with one of the most practical aspects of the change being the introduction of a System Restore component in the broader operating system design. System Restore includes tools for managing the restoring of device drivers, tracking of application and data file changes, and actively managing system-level files for changes. With the addition of the System Restore functionality at the kernel level of Windows XP, Microsoft brings UNIX-like reliability to the desktop.

One of the more challenging aspects of working with any operating system is trying to mediate between devices that function perfectly with an existing device driver set, only to stop working when a new device driver is installed. Often, new device drivers claim the same IRQ values as existing device drivers, laying claim to resources that the working configuration of device drivers were using. This problem has been particularly acute when installing NICs (Network Interface Cards) because the connectivity requires TCP/IP parameters. Instead of having to try and remember each and every single device driver you have on your PCs and the PCs you support, Microsoft's Windows XP is aimed squarely at the problems associated with keeping track of the device configurations that were working before a device driver installation was undertaken.

Where Did Device Driver Rollback Start?

Microsoft's Windows XP operating system has Device Driver Rollback as part of the broader series of reliability features illustrated in Betas 1 and 2 of the XP operating system. Microsoft has been working on ancillary technologies to Device Driver Rollback since 1997, when the Zero Administration Initiative in the Windows operating system was pervasively worked on. The core technology of Device Driver Rollback was originally started in Microsoft's server products, being augmented to be included at the kernel level of the Windows XP operating system.

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