I remember way back (I mean WAY BACK) in the early Windows days, like Windows 3.1 running on DOS 5.0, what a joy it was to deal with hardware devices. Adding hardware required an understanding of arcane, dark magic known as IRQ’s and DMA’s and conflicts between devices had to be resolved manually through some process of trial and error.
Using that as a reference point, the Device Manager that we have become accustomed to in Windows XP seems like pure genius. You have one place to go where you can see all of the devices and easily identify any devices that are having issues. As new devices are added they are automatically detected and added to the Device Manager inventory, and there are tools for troubleshooting issues and updating drivers. Seems functional enough.
The porblem is that its still a bit of uber-techie black magic from a novice perspective, and it approaches things from a device-centric perspective. With Windows 7, Microsoft shifts to an experience-centric solution for managing devices called Device Stage.
Device Stage provides a single console for managing devices such as printers, webcams, and mobile phones. The information displayed and functionality available in Device Stage are customized by the device vendor, so the features of Device Stage will vary from one vendor to another. But, the key thing is that Device Stage gives you a console to manage the experience with that device and actually perform functions, and not just a platform for updating device drivers.