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What is a Hardware Compatibility List?

By G. Wiesen
Updated May 16, 2024
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A hardware compatibility list is a list of various hardware peripherals and devices that have been tested or shown to be effectively compatible with a particular software program. These lists are usually devised and maintained for major programs such as operating systems (OS) to ensure that a peripheral or other device will be able to function properly with an OS. Other types of software can also maintain such a list, though this is often a more specialized list. A hardware compatibility list can typically be generated and maintained either by the developer of a program or by users of the software who have tested the program with various pieces of hardware.

Often associated with software requirements, a hardware compatibility list serves a similar function though in a somewhat different way. This type of list is most commonly associated with an OS that might be installed on a computer. The importance of such lists is especially evident for smaller OS programs that may be less commonly used and which may have issues functioning properly with different hardware. Other programs may have a hardware compatibility list as well, though these are often more specialized and narrow in focus, such as an illustration program that has a list of drawing tablets that can function with the program.

There are two primary types of hardware compatibility lists that can be found for most programs: lists created by the developer of the software or lists established by users of the software. The developer will typically test different types of hardware, as well as other programs, to ensure proper compatibility between the programs and devices. When this is done, the developer will create a list of hardware that works properly with the software. This hardware compatibility list is typically available on the website of the software developer and is usually updated regularly by the developer.

Smaller programs, such as open source operating systems, may not have the resources to maintain such rigid standards of testing. In this case, the hardware compatibility list might be generated by users who are running the program with various hardware configurations. The users will typically maintain a list of different hardware on a website, contributing to the list and regularly commenting on different peripherals and devices. An online hardware compatibility list can also have a user forum or other messaging system associated with it, allowing users to request different devices or configurations for testing.

EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By Logicfest — On Nov 26, 2014

@Melonlity -- That could actually apply to almost any computer out there regardless of what operating system it is using. It's been like that since computers were first developed and sold to consumers.

That is because hardware is constantly being upgraded and it is not unusual to find differences between the hardware used in earlier and later editions of the exact, same model.

There may be more variations among Microsoft-compatible computers, but hardware compatibility lists are always important for any computer. And that, folks, is how it is and how it has been for a very long time.

By Melonlity — On Nov 25, 2014

And that has always been a major problem with any operating system made by Microsoft. There are so many computers made that are compatible with Microsoft operating systems (and we're going back to the days before Windows here, even) that you never know if the hardware you have in your particular machine is compatible with the software you want to run.

That should not be taken as a criticism. That's just how it is and has been for a very long time.

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