The Windows Hardware Compatibility List (also known as Windows HCL) is very simple, a list of hardware devices compatible with a particular Microsoft Windows operating system version.
Once a device has cleared the Windows Hardware Quality Labs (WHQL) process, the company can use a “Certified for Windows” badge, logo (or something very alike) in their advertising, and the device is acceptable to be registered in the Windows HCL.
The Windows HCL is usually just called the Windows HCL. Still, you may see it under many names like Windows Compatibility Center, HCL, Windows Compatibility Product List, Windows Logo’d Product List, or Windows Catalog.
When should you use the Windows HCL?
The Windows Hardware Compatibility List (Windows HCL) assists as a handy reference when publishing hardware for a computer you wish to install a newer version of Windows OS onto.
Of course, you can usually assume that most PC hardware is compatible with an established version of Windows. Still, it’s wise to double-check for compatibility with a version of Windows that hasn’t been on the market very long.
The Windows HCL can sometimes be a helpful troubleshooting tool for specific Device Manager error codes like (Code 43) and STOP errors like BSOD (Blue Screens of Death). However, some errors that Windows shows are related to particular hardware could likely be due to a general incompatibility between that piece of hardware and Windows.
You could search for the troubled piece of hardware in the Windows HCL to check if it’s listed as incompatible with your Windows version. If so, you’d recognize that was the problem and could either replace the peripheral with a compatible model or contact the hardware manufacturer for additional information on updated device drivers or further plans for compatibility.
How to use the Windows HCL or Windows Hardware Compatibility List
To begin, visit the Windows Compatible Products List page. The options you can fill out include –
- Marketing/Product Name
- Company Name
- D & U Status
- Operating System
You can also search the Windows HCL for PCs, tablets, removable storage, hard drives, solid-state drives, smart card readers, etc.
For instance, when looking for Windows 10 compatibility info on an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Graphics Card, you can see that it is compatible in both 64-bit and 32-bit versions of not only Windows 10 but also Windows 8 / Windows 7.
Clicking the Download Certification Report link on any of the listed products will show you the specific certification reports, verifying that Microsoft has certified the device for use in particular versions of Windows.
Also, the reports are even dated so that you can see when each product was approved and certified.