I say you should never be embarrassed to ask a question, but a reader is. She writes, “I’m ashamed to have to ask this, but what exactly is a driver? I hear the term used about the computer and I understand that they are important and have to be installed and updated. But exactly what are they? You don’t open them like programs, so how do they work?”
Never be ashamed to ask a question. Otherwise, how are you going to learn anything? At it’s simplest level, a driver is a kind of software that allows a device like a printer, mouse, or WiFi adapter to talk to the operating system of your computer. The software also allows the operating system to communicate with the device. The software is often created by the company that manufactures the device, other times it’s created according to a published standard for that operating system.
Not all drivers are tied to specific devices, but for our purposes, we’ll stick to the drivers that help hardware function. Drivers need to be updated because of changes in operating systems and in the functions devices need to perform.