Ken Colburn of Data Doctors answers June, who writes:

What does it mean when I get an error message that tells me that
software that I am installing for hardware has not passed Windows logo
testing in Windows XP?

One of the biggest problems that plagued the Windows operating
system in the past was the installation of a software ‘driver’ that was
not compatible with the version of Windows that was being used.

A ‘driver’ is a small software program that instructs Windows on how to
use a hardware component, such as a video card, sound card, or printer. The compatibility issue comes into play when you attempt to install a
driver that is not designed for the version of Windows that is being
used. In the past, if you inserted a CD with an installation program that was
older than your version of Windows, it would allow it to install without
any warnings.

This was a very common ailment that many of our customers suffered
because they assumed that any ‘Windows’ CD was compatible with any
version of Windows. The problem is that a CD that was created for Windows 98 (well before
the release of Windows XP) has no way of properly working with an
operating system that did not even exist when it was written. The difference between Windows XP and any previous versions of Windows
is that it will warn you when you are about to potentially destabilize
the entire system with what is referred to as an ‘unsigned driver.’ An unsigned driver is one that has not been specifically certified by
Microsoft to work with Windows XP. This does not mean that unsigned
drivers will always cause a problem, but it does mean that you could be
taking a chance by installing it.

Microsoft has often been blamed for creating an unstable operation
system, but much of the blame should be laid at the feet of the user who
installs a program that is mismatched for the version of Windows that is
in use. As a general rule of thumb, always check any software program to see
which versions of Windows it supports before attempting to install it.
If you are running Windows XP and the CD that you are about to install
does not specifically mention support for Windows XP, you should check
with the software manufacturer’s Web site for an updated version.

Another tip that will help you to avoid problems is to always check the
manufacturer’s Web site for the very latest version of any driver or
installation program to ensure the highest level of compatibility, even
if you have a Windows XP certified CD. This will likely be the first thing that a tech support person will tell
you to do in the event of a problem, so doing it before calling for help
will reduce the amount of time that you will spend on the phone
with ‘cauliflower ear.’

If your system seems to be very unstable, you can also check to see how
many unsigned drivers are currently installed to see if a recent
installation coincides with the instability. To check File Signature Verification, click on Start, Run, then
type ‘sigverif’ and follow the instructions on the screen.