Home > Articles > Operating Systems, Server > Microsoft Windows Desktop

Windows 8 Driver Gotchas

Updating Windows drivers can sometimes be a breeze, but occasionally can be an exercise in frustration. While finding the best and most-up-to-date driver can pose the occasional challenge, there are some tricks worth trying to help you find them and get them installed. Ed Tittel explains some of his favorite Windows drivers tips, tricks, and resources.
Like this article? We recommend

Like this article? We recommend

Lest the title suggest more than it actually means, the aim of this article is not to report on—or complain about—Windows driver problems or issues. In general, Windows 8 is very good with drivers, especially for any devices that conform to the Windows Plug-and-Play specifications (a condition that pertains to 99-plus-percent of all devices in use today).

Instead, the aim of this article is to explain why some devices occasionally show up in Windows 8 as "Other devices," bearing the traditional question mark icon that denotes something for which Windows can't find the proper device driver.

Figure 1 shows an example from one of my Windows 8 desktop PCs.

Figure 1 A screen snippet from Windows 8 Device Manager showing "Other devices"

In general, the question mark means that Windows can't find a driver for the devices shown on its own. You can quickly and easily confirm this by right-clicking any such device and selecting the "Update Driver Software" option from the resulting pop-up menu (see Figure 2).

Figure 2 Right-click any device in Device Manager to ask Windows to look again for a driver

Who knows? You might get lucky (particularly if it's something you just added to your system, and Windows' first try to find the driver failed or got interrupted for any reason) and actually get a working driver out of this maneuver.

Don't get your hopes up, though: out of the hundreds of times I've tried this, it’s worked perhaps twice, and each time success came as a stunning and unexpected surprise.

Most of the time, you'll see something like the message shown in Figure 3 from Windows instead.

Figure 3 Most of the time, Windows says "No dice!"

OK, Windows Finds Nothing. What Next?

A wise man once told me that the answer to any good question always begins with the same two words—namely, "That depends." In this case (and I'll use the items displayed in Figure 1 as my jumping off points), it depends on what Device Manager can tell you about each device. In the case of a Bluetooth Peripheral Device, of which there could be a very large number of different types, this isn't terribly helpful. In the case of something specific and mysterious like OMAP4470, you might just get lucky by searching for that string using Google or another favorite search engine.

But alas; in this case, all I could determine is that an OMAP4470 is a Texas Instruments processor that's used in smartphones (like the BlackBerry Z10) and tablets (most notably in various Kindle and Nook e-readers). Because I plugged my son's Nook HD into this PC last week to charge it up, I can only speculate that Windows 8 recognized the type of device to which it was attached, but couldn't find a driver. In fact, not even through the OMAP Application Processor forum on the TI E2E (Engineer-to-Engineer) support community was I able to find a driver, by hook or by crook. However, when I plug the Nook back in, I can still access its internal storage through File Explorer. Go figure!

This looks like a case where I find no driver because there is no driver to be found. I do see some discussion of drivers for Windows CE and Windows Mobile Development tools, but nothing for conventional Windows Oss, where the OMAP4470 is concerned.

Try the Driver Properties, Especially Hardware IDs

But when I started digging into my other mystery driver, I discovered that my P8Z68-V Pro Gen3 motherboard from Asus includes built-in Bluetooth. However, Asus hasn't released Windows 8 drivers for that Bluetooth module. With some diligent online searching on the hardware ID—a formidable string that takes this value:


I discovered a Czech website that specializes in Atheros drivers (the Unofficial Czech Atheros Drivers site) that told me that driver version worked with my device and with Windows 8. But I couldn't find a link to that driver there, so I searched Google again for "Atheros Bluetooth Driver" and grabbed it from Softpedia (a usually reliable source for downloading drivers). It did, however, take forever to grab the package from that website, but eventually it got downloaded to that Windows 8 desktop PC.

After installing that driver, I wound up with the entry in Device Manager shown in Figure 4.

Figure 4 Post-installation, the PC works with Bluetooth, and driver is installed

Potential Treasure Troves for Windows Drivers, Including Windows 8

Over the years, I've learned that there are good ways to find drivers in general and some even better ways to find particular drivers. When it comes to general driver-search techniques, a driver scanner/updater is a good way to go.

Slimware Utilities makes a decent free tool called SlimDrivers, but I've learned to appreciate the higher hit rates you get from commercial tools such as DriverAgent, RadarSync, or Driver Detective (my favorite of the bunch is DriverAgent, though you can find pointers to 10 such offerings at TopTenReviews). See my June, 2008 blog post, "Smart Use of DriverAgent Improves Driver Update Results," and my March 2012 post, "Interesting Driver Status for Clean Windows 8 Installs," for more discussion on how to make good use of this tool.

But there will be times when a driver scanner won't be able to help you get the driver you need installed on your Windows 8 PC. I encounter this most often when the scanner recommends an installer for some OEM machine that's smart enough to know that I'm trying to install it on a machine made by somebody else. At that point, it stops running and shuts itself down.

In such cases, you either need to find a way to extract the drivers from the installer file so you can install them manually or find those drivers from some other source. In the sections that follow, I explain how to walk a bit down each of these paths.

Find Another Driver Source

For drivers from some sources, it pays to go straight to the manufacturer to look for their drivers. This works for most devices, except when specific models are sold only to OEMs, in which case you'll be referred to the company that sold you a desktop, notebook, or tablet PC.

Over time, I've learned to go to look for drivers from the following vendors when the scanner lets me down:

  • AMD
  • Atheros
  • Broadcom
  • Intel
  • Nvidia
  • Synaptics

As long as you can identify the make and model of the devices for which you're seeking drivers, you can probably find something usable through these vendors' sites. On the other hand, there may be times when what the vendor provides won't work for you, either. In such cases, I've found that some third-party driver sites actually get ahead of what the vendor makes publicly available. One of these is the Czech Atheros site already mentioned; another is a French website named Station-Drivers, where I have very often found drivers for AMD, Intel, Broadcom, Atheros, Asus, JMicron, Marvell, and Realtek that I could find nowhere else, no matter how hard I looked. Be sure to add these tools to your driver search arsenal, too.

Extracting Good Drivers from Uncooperative Installers

Warning: this approach doesn't always work, and is most likely to fail on Intel installers, which are very good at hiding driver files in their installer programs, even from determined people like me (on the other hand, Intel's chipset utility includes the /a and /p options so you can instruct it to unpack its contents into a directory of your choosing).

Many installers, however, can be unpacked to reveal their contents, often including the .dll, .inf, and .cat files at which you need to point Device Manager to succeed when you tell the Update tool to "Browse my computer for driver software."

Surprisingly, I have had excellent luck unpacking some installer programs using the 7Zip utility. For others, I turn to Legroom Software's Universal Extractor. You can point either of these tools at an .exe file and they will do their best to unpack its contents for you. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't, but I've had enough luck with both tools and driver installers to recommend them as "worth a try."

Knowing When to Quit

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you can't find the driver you need for the device you're trying to update (or get working). My recommendation is never to spend more than two hours trying to find and install any particular driver. After you've been beavering away for that long, you'll only be doing yourself a favor by breaking off to go do something else.

You can always return to the problem later and try again. I've been in a handful of situations in which it took half-a-dozen tries before I finally cracked a particular driver dilemma. If you persist over time, you may indeed succeed. But if you persist for too long at one sitting, you'll just get frustrated (and maybe a headache). Breaking off really does help.

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020