Customers ask from time to time how they can pull down driver files that they see on the Windows Update site individually without the need to use the Windows Update Agent internally within Windows. This can be done using the Windows Update Catalog site located here: http://catalog.update.microsoft.com/v7/site/Home.aspx
You can use the site to pull down not only driver files on Windows Update but individual hotfixes as well. For drivers, I have found that there are two methods that are effective. The first is to try to use the manufacturer and model name of the device that you’re looking for. This works a good amount of the time but it will depend on how the driver is actually listed on the Windows Update Catalog as to whether or not you would get a good result. For example, a co-worker of mine was looking for a driver recently for his Belkin wireless NIC. Unfortunately, they didn’t have the device name so searching for this by manufacturer yields the following result:
As you can see from the screencap (hopefully), there are hundreds of drivers listed for Belkin wireless devices. So, what’s a better way to narrow this down? Use the PNP ID for the device. You can find this in the \Windows\INF\setupapi.dev.log on Windows Vista and Windows 7 based installations. In this case, the PNP ID was prefixed with USB\VID_050D&PID_945A. So, searching for this, we get the following:
So, this narrows the results from hundreds to tens, and we can further eliminate devices based on the OS we’re looking to find information about. Many people don’t even know about the Download Center, let alone that you can utilize the PNP IDs of devices to find the drivers for those devices.
Well now you know