December 12, 2012, 3:57 PM — Has your computer's hardware started freaking out, freezing up or behaving in weird ways since you've made the jump to Windows 8? Don't lay blame at the feet of a mischievous gremlin. Instead, it's much more likely that your devices simply aren't rocking the most up-to-date Windows 8-compatible drivers.
Yes, a simple driver update might just fix your Windows 8 hardware woes.
The Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant does a decent job of identifying which parts and software in your rig need an update prior to installing Windows 8--and Microsoft's Windows Compatibility Center website offers the same feature for DIY types who prefer to search for specific programs and hardware--but many devices still fall through the cracks, and you'll need to manually update any drivers Microsoft can't snag itself. (Note that the process outlined below works for Windows 7, as well.)
How to update Windows 8 drivers
Before you get your hands dirty, however, you should see if Windows Update has automatically checked for driver updates. Not all drivers are available through Windows Update, but many are and it's the easiest way to proceed.
To check, open the Charms bar and select Settings. Then, choose Change PC Settings and navigate to the Windows Update settings menu. The only thing you can do here is click the Check for Updates Now button and see if it finds any. By default, Windows will install updates during your next scheduled maintenance--usually in the middle of the night--but you can force the updates to install post-haste by clicking on the link that tells you how many updates are ready to install.
If that doesn't work, you will need to manually update the driver for your finicky hardware. To do that, you'll have to use the trusty Device Manager. You'd be excused for thinking that the Device Manager would be found in the Devices tab of the Windows 8 settings menu, but it's not quite that simple. Instead, you'll have to launch it manually by returning to the Home screen and typing "Device Manager" then clicking on the Settings tab in the search menu. There you'll see the Device Manager, which will launch in desktop mode. You can also scrounge for the Device Manager in Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Device Manager.
Actually updating a driver is simple. Just find the device you would like to update, right-click on it, and select Update Driver Software. You'll have the option to have Windows search for drivers for you, but if you've come this far it's likely that you'll want to choose the second option, which allows you to manually select a location where you've downloaded drivers for your misbehaving device.