for hardware have NOT changed for almost 20 years - except within Windows. Yes, new commands have been added, which is why to add a USB device to a Win 9x system you have to add USB drivers as it's not part of the system
Some hardware is made to the industry standard command set detailed in the early 1990s and they just plug and work with any OS that uses the industry standards commands, but any hardware designed to a specific proprietary standard does NOT need a driver for that OS and will need a driver for any other OS. That's why hardware listed as 'out of the box compatible with Win XP' just plugged in and worked with XP but needed drivers to work with anything else.
I have a laser printer that was made in 1996 and it uses the Industry standard commands. It just plugged in and worked with my old Win 3.11 system when I got it, I needed drivers to work with Win 9x but no Win 2000 / XP drivers for it, yet it plugs in and works with any Unix, Linux, or Mac system as they use the industry standard command sets - while Windows hasn't since they walked away from the standards with Win 95.
The same is true for all hardware. It's the use of the industry standard commands for monitors in the BIOS that allows them to have basic operation with any item, the newer fancy features will need drivers or not depending open which command set is in them and what OS they're hooked up to.
The printer driver issue that arose with Windows came about from the fact that Windows has NOT used the industry standards for printers since win 3.11 and not all the printer manufacturers had the same level of expertise or information on the Windows systems to make the drivers for Windows. - In short, MS created the problem in the first place.
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