Adding a USB driver in WIN95 SR2.1

When WIN95 is first installed into a PC, the USB driver isn't configured properly. The reason is simple enough - WIN95 didn't have the driver for it when it installed. If you bought a machine, and it is in this state, then the PC house was too lazy to configure it for you. It is that simple. It only takes ten minutes to load the drivers and test the USB port.

I added a USB test utility from Intel to the FTP site. It is under the usb_test subdirectory. The file name is USBREADY.EXE. After you finish your software installation, the program will tell you if the PC is USB ready. It may tell you to use WIN98 if you fail, but don't give up that easily!

Before you begin, you MUST have SR2.1 or later of WIN95. SR2.1 is an OEM release. SR2 and later were never available except with a new PC purchase. To see if your PC is USB driver ready, go the the Device Manager. Your version number will have a B or C after it as shown below. My PC is version 4.00.950 B. WIN98 PCs start with 4.10. (You do not need to do this procedure with WIN98. In fact, don't even try it! ) A C was version 2.5. Versions 2.0 and  2.1 shows up with a B. If your PC has no letter or an A, you done and can't do the USB driver installation.

As with all hardware, if WIN95 can see it during setup but can't find a driver, it puts it into the Other devices section. You can find the screen below by going to My Computer, then Control Panel, and then System.

You can see the PCI Universal Serial Bus, USB, listed along with other devices the PC has in it. All of these items in the Other devices group must be reinstalled with the correct driver to function. Simply installing a driver won't work. WIN95 will only assign drivers to new devices without drivers but not existing hardware with the wrong driver. This is important.

If you can't see the USB controller on the hardware list at this point, stop. It means the hardware is either not enabled or not available at all on your system. You won't have a prayer of turning it on. Please check your MB manual and BIOS settings. You might want to check your BIOS setting for the USB IRQ Enable/Disable. Some MBs, Award for example, allow you to turn off the IRQ for the USB controller. It will still show up in the the Device Manager, but your USB devices won't work.

So, the first thing that must be done is to select the PCI USB driver from the screen above and click Remove. You will be prompted to confirm your selection. Click OK and continue.

So where is the correct, USB driver? It is on the WIN95 SR2.1B OEM CDROM. Why didn't Microsoft just install it during the normal system build? Because they are Microsoft, that's why. Nearly all new PCs have the USB hardware built in and have the USB connectors on the MB also. Microsoft has left it up to the system integrator to configure the USB bus. It wasn't until WIN95 SR2.1 came out that a common, standard USB driver even existed. Microsoft would have had to change the installation procedure, and they chose not to do so.

After the USB hardware has been deleted, go to My Computer. Double click on the CDROM icon. Find the OTHER directory. You will see the USB folder listed. Double click on that folder and open it up. Again, you will have this driver only if your WIN95 CD is an OEM SR2.1 or later. I would put this folder on my FTP site, except that you need to have SR2.1 on your PC anyway and you therefore have the driver CD yourself.

For WIN95 SR2.5 the folder is called updates, but the procedure is the same. SR2.5 is supposed autodetect the USB port during installation, but it doesn't work. You will have to do this manual procedure as always.

Double click on the usbsupp icon. Follow the prompts to install the USB driver. Click YES and continue.

If the USB driver has already been installed, you will see an error screen.

on't worry about this screen if you see it. It just means the Microsoft USB drivers are already on the HD. Skip over the next few installation screens and reboot the PC. Otherwise the USB drivers will be installed into the C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM directory, although you are never told this and have no control over it anyway.

If it isn't already present, the USB driver will start to install. You must accept the license agreement and click YES.

Then the driver scans the C drive for errors.

WIN95 will need to be restarted to configure the new driver. You will see the confirmation screen that the USB driver has installed. Click on OK. The PC will reboot.

When it does restart, WIN95 will come up with Device Driver Wizard screens. Click on Next, and then on Finish. Do not select the Other Locations box even though it seems obvious.

 WIN95 is not smart when it comes to new hardware installations. It will find the new USB hardware, but it will want to know where the drivers are. After clicking Finish on the above menu, it asks for the driver location. You will need to type in C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM.

WIN95 will also find another device, the USB root hub, after it gets the driver for the main USB controller. This is normal. Relax. It is important that the USB Root Hub be detected. The USB hub is the hardware tied to the UHCD.SYS driver. Don't blow this off. Without the USB root hub, USB devices won't be detected. If your PnP autodetection doesn't work when you install the USB device, chances are the root hub isn't installed.

When the new configuration stops, go back into the Control Panel and then to System. The new hardware list will be different than it was before.

You will see the USB controller listed with its own group under a gray diamond. Remember that it was under the Other device yellow question mark section. On this particular PC a PCI multimedia device is still left without a driver just as an illustration. It has nothing to do with the USB configuration.

As a sanity check, double click on the Computer icon at the top of this menu. It lists all of the PC's IRQ settings. The USB controller can share an interrupt with some ethernet and video cards, but it is nice if it has a unique setting to avoid conflicts. For example, Intel 100+ NIC , and Number Nine video cards seem to be content to share their IRQ settings.

Notice that for most machines you will still have a piece of hardware or two listed in the Other Devices group.

If you own a PII system, the Intel PIIX4 driver, found on the Intel AL440LX MB or 440BX2 MB CD, installation will also provide the necessary USB support automatically. Please make sure that you see the USB Root Hub in both cases. It is a common mistake to only install part of the USB drivers and not have the USB Root Hub present. To have USB functionality, both the USB Host Controller driver and the USB Root Hub must be present.

The drivers for 95 and NT are not the same, so be careful. It will also remove a few of the unsupported hardware objects such as the PCI bridge, and it will add several more under System Devices. Notice that the USB driver description in the PII case is a bit different than the Microsoft USB driver listed above.

I've fallen down, and I can't get up!

You took your best first shot at the procedure, but the USB Root Hub isn't listed. Oh shoot! Chances are the USB hardware isn't properly enabled in BIOS, or your hardware is too old. If it is a simple hardware configuration problem, you can try these steps to get full USB functionality.

Again, I added a USB test utility from Intel to the FTP site. The file name is USBREADY.EXE. After you finish your software installation, the program will tell you if the PC is USB ready. If this program passes then you have a USB device driver error,etc. Remember that this web page will work for WIN95 SR2.1 and later. The USBREADY program, however, works on 95 and 98 systems.

1) Make sure the USB port is ON in the BIOS. Your BIOS may need to be flashed ( upgraded ) to allow USB port control.  Also make sure that you have a free IRQ to assign to the controller. Without a free IRQ you will never get it started!
2) Delete the USB stuff from Device manager.
3) Remove the USB file from control panel/add remove SW screen
4) Reboot the box.
5) Do not install any USB drivers if it asks for some...just hit cancel
6) Go to device manager and make sure there are no USB references in OTHER DEVICES or anywhere else. It might be a good idea to reboot the PC a second time after this part but boot into SAFE mode. Do this by hitting the F8 function key after POST  and before the '95 splash screen comes up.
7) Reload the USB drivers from the SR 2.1B CD
8) Cross your fingers!

If your PC locks up after loading the USB drivers, your PC may have an IO subsystem conflict. This is often caused by the Microsoft Smartdrive program. Go to the Smartdrv.EXE program in C:\Windows\ and rename it to dumb_drive.exe. Reboot the PC and everything should start again.

Microsoft has good technote on USB mice and keyboards. It explains what happens when you connect these devices to your PC and the necessary hardware requirements. They wrote it for '98 and WIN2000, NT 5.0, but the content still flows into WIN95 SR2.1B or later.

USB works, but I can't find WIN95 USB hardware. It is WIN98 only.

Unfortunately, there are now devices that are WIN98 only! The idiots at these places didn't even bother to make a WIN95 driver. Even HP now does this with their current line of USB scanners. The older 4100cxi scanner ( which we have in stock!)  worked on 95 and 98, but the new 4200 is '98 only! Unless the device specifically says WIN95 and WIN98 on it, you are taking a risk on a '95 system. Don't buy it. It shouldn't be that way, but it is.

Back to vb-tech