This blog post was updated April 6th 2010 with an additional screenshot showing the evolving Device Stage experience.
Windows 7 contain a feature called Device Stage. It is a way for hardware manufacturers’ to provide more value related to their products and it can be anything from providing shortcuts to drivers, firmware, manuals to processing of digital photographs online or to provide links to purchasing printer accessories.
The good thing about this is that the hardware manufacturers can provide this functionality for older hardware and not just new hardware, as well as provide updates to the Device Stage experience for each device whenever applicable. This is achieved by using the same feature as the one which in Windows Media Player download album cover art automatically. Note that the Device Stage information can be supplied in the driver from the factory but as this only applies to new hardware it’s best to let Windows 7 update this kind of information from the internet.
Below I provide a couple of screenshots where you can see a Device Stage example for a Lenovo X300 laptop. As you can see the icon is a real image of how the machine looks in real life. The second shot shows you how Lenovo has customized Device Stage for this particular machine. The only Lenovo specific tool as of this date is the link to ThinkVantage Tools, but this can easily be adjusted by Lenovo to contain manuals, important information, ordering parts or upgrades etc.
Above: As seen on August 16th 2009, Below: As seend on April 6th 2010.
I would say that the imagination of the hardware manufacturer is the only obstacle when it comes to Device Stage. It will be interesting to see how the manufacturers can take advantage of this feature and I am really looking forward to seeing more use of Device Stage!