The Microsoft Windows hardware compatibility list (HCL) is a compilation of computers and computer hardware that have been extensively tested with Windows for stability and compatibility. Microsoft Product Support Services (PSS) uses the HCL to determine whether or not particular hardware is supported for use with the Windows operating system.
Before you install Windows on a computer, check the HCL to determine whether the computer is certified by Microsoft as Windows-compliant.
For additional information about hardware that is supported on a Windows XP-based system, click the article number below
to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
The Latest Windows XP Hardware Compatibility List (HCL)
A hardware device is not supported if it is not listed on the HCL. For a computer to be considered an HCL-compliant system, the computer must be listed on the HCL. If a computer is not listed on the HCL, but it is built with hardware that is listed on the HCL (for example, a motherboard from a referenced system, an approved SCSI controller, an approved video adapter, and an approved network card), it is still not
considered an HCL system. Moreover, any computer that contains a device that is not on the HCL is not considered compliant. If a particular computer is on the HCL, it can contain any combination of devices listed on the HCL and still qualify for support, even though the system as a whole has not been tested.
Microsoft follows the following guidelines and troubleshooting steps for non-HCL equipment support issues.
Step 1: Hardware Configuration Inquiry
- The Microsoft Support Professional asks about the customer's hardware configuration.
Hardware not found on the Windows HCL is not supported. However, Microsoft will aid in troubleshooting these issues, if the customer requests it. Microsoft does not guarantee that a resolution will be found for non-HCL equipment. Applicable support rates will apply for Microsoft's troubleshooting assistance.
- Upon agreement, the Support Professional proceeds to "Step 2: Troubleshooting." Note that Microsoft does not guarantee a solution in cases with non-HCL devices.
- If there is no agreement (the customer feels that an incident should not be charged for), the Support Professional proceeds to "Step 3: Other Resources."
Step 2: Troubleshooting
A standard troubleshooting process is used to isolate the cause of the
problem. The following list includes some of the resources and techniques that the Microsoft Support Professional uses:
- The Microsoft Knowledge Base is available to customers through Microsoft TechNet and at the following Microsoft Web site:
- Determines whether the problem occurs on a supported hardware device.
- Checks the hardware and driver configuration by removing unsupported (or suspect) components (for example, adapter cards and video cards). Issues that relate to unsupported systems and motherboards cannot be approached in this fashion.
During the course of troubleshooting, if the problem is isolated to a
non-HCL device, the Support Professional proceeds to Step 3 and closes the incident.
If there is no solution to the problem, the Support Professional explains the reason and recommends constructive alternatives, including one or more of the following:
- Offers the phone number and Web site for the motherboard, adapter card, or other device manufacturer, if available, so that the customer can ask for troubleshooting suggestions and updated third-party drivers.
- Recommends that the customer request that the hardware vendor try to install Windows on the system, or configure it in such a way that Windows becomes stable and functional.
- Informs the customer of BIOS or firmware updates. Information about possible updates is available in the Microsoft Knowledge Base.
Step 3: Other Resources
PSS policy with regard to a Windows failure that is related to non-HCL hardware is as follows:
The Support Professional directs the customer to the following Knowledge Base article:
HOW TO: Troubleshoot Windows XP Problems During Installation When You Upgrade from Windows 98 or Windows Me
Alternatively, the Support Professional can provide information about the location of the same file or files and where they can be downloaded (Microsoft Web site, Microsoft FTP server, and Microsoft Download Library). If the customer decides to bypass Step 2 (does not want to be charged for an incident), the customer may try to resolve the issue without charge by using the previously mentioned troubleshooting documents.
Server Down or Data Loss Issues
There is a possibility that by installing or upgrading to Windows XP
on unsupported hardware, a customer may lose some operating system functionality or data. In cases where the previous operating system
was a Microsoft operating system (such as Microsoft Windows 98, Microsoft Windows Millennium Edition [Me], Microsoft Windows NT 4.0, or Microsoft Windows 2000), the Support Professional determines whether the issue is a problem with the operating system or is related to a non-HCL hardware issue. If the problem is the operating system, the Support Professional files a report and evaluates the problem to provide a fix. The Support Professional also tries to recover the system.
If the problem is related to hardware incompatibility, the customer will
need to restore the previous operating system and data from backup. If the
customer does not have a backup of the previous operating system, the
Support Professional will help the customer install only the previous working operating system. This does not include other drive file
structures, data or security, or any other previous operating system
In cases where the previous operating system is not a Microsoft operating
system (for example, a PowerPC system with an AIX, Linux, or Macintosh operating system), Microsoft cannot help customers recover their systems. PSS Support Professionals are not responsible for performing recovery procedures on non-Microsoft operating systems.
The third-party products that are discussed in this article are manufactured by companies that are independent of Microsoft. Microsoft makes no warranty, implied or otherwise, regarding the performance or reliability of these products.