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Protocols and Drivers

Mice convert the motions they detect into a digital code that can be processed or analyzed by your computer. The only loose end is what code the mouse uses. A standard mouse code would help software writers craft their products to better take advantage of mice. A standard mouse code would be so useful, in fact, that the industry has come up with four distinct standards, called mouse protocols, all of which were in use at one time. These standards were developed by four of the major forces in the mouse industry, and each bore its originator's name. These include Microsoft, Mouse Systems Corporation (for a period known as MSC Corporation), Logitech, and IBM Corporation. The first three were designed for individual mouse products created by the respective companies. The IBM protocol was introduced with the PS/2 series of computers, which came equipped with a built-in jack that accepted a mouse. Other pointing devices use their own protocols, complicating matters further.

In truth, you don't need to know the details of any of these protocols. That's the challenge handled by the software driver used by your pointing device. And that's why you must match the right driver software to your pointing device.

Today, the Microsoft mouse protocol is the most prevalent. Most generic mice will work as a Microsoft mouse if you don't have a specific driver for your mouse. But the generic Microsoft mouse protocol does not take advantage of the specific features of the products of other manufacturers.

In normal circumstances, Windows will find and recognize your mouse or other pointing device and install the proper driver software for it. Because Windows has a large repertory of built-in drivers, you may not need a specific driver for your device. You can also install a new mouse manually. Windows gives you at least two ways of accomplishing the installation: through the Add New Hardware icon in Control Panel or the Mouse icon in Control Panel (using the General tab and clicking the Change button).

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