I've been wondering about this question for a while but still haven't found an answer. A fresh install of Windows 7 requires little to no additional drivers. Unlike with Windows XP where drivers had to be loaded automatically, in Win7, drivers have been loaded automatically.
Do they use generic drivers or are the drivers actually product specific, meaning if I have a Logitech headset, will Win7 find the drivers for that headset and install them for me?
I've also noticed that during post install, there will be drivers available through the Windows Update. However, that I can understand.
Windows 7 is far beter than XP. When I installed 7 on an old system, some of the drivers that weren't part of the OS install. Windows downloaded them automatically, (once the LAN was set up, which it did itself, too). I just had to reboot a couple of times, and Windows 7 gave me all the most recent drivers THEY had (i.e. Lan, Sound, Video).
That doesn't mean they have the most recent one out there. For instance, ATI Radoen cards just got Catalyst 10.6, so this is newer than what Windows has/had.
But they do have drivers that will make the components work. Well, those that are supported in WIndows 7....
Not that MS actually does this: but, from my days as an analyst
with a minicomputer company in 1978, our OS had a nifty fault handler
that would link dynamic libraries at run-time.
On the first CALL to such a dynamic library, the software would err and
then revert to a FAULT HANDLER which then found the requested
routine, made the necessary changes in the STACK, and then
re-executed the CALL with the correct virtual addresses
to satisfy all required procedural settings e.g.
starting address, pointers to parameters and arguments,
return address, etc.
(This helped a lot at a time when multiple copies of
run-time libraries would use up too much of our
1 or 2 Megabytes of RAM (total!) -- 256KB per 17" circuit board --
so a single copy of a run-time library did conserve memory.)
MS operating systems now utilize the same concept in .DLL files
("DLL" = Dynamic Link Libraries).
As long as the network connection is working and Internet
access is enabled, it's a simple matter to "pad" device drivers
with a DUMMY routine that does something similar,
if a complete device driver is not available on the Setup CD:
all that needs to happen is to run Windows Update,
which is always a good idea anyway when doing a fresh install, and
working, if not the latest, device drivers will be automatically downloaded
My Answer (Best Guess) is: something like that
p.s. Thus, when the Feds talk about an Internet "Kill Switch",
you can be absolutely sure, thereby, that these people are certifiably crazy.