1. The Add/Remove Programs dialogue in the Windows Control Panel simply lists programs installed that were supposed to be designed with a Windows-compatible uninstall feature built-in. Some programs add a reference to their uninstaller (part of the requirement for a 32-bit aware program to have the official Microsoft "Windows Logo" on their packaging), some simply provide a shortcut in the Start Menu only -- particularly those which do not have the logo, and some do both.
2. Even when an "Uninstall item" is added to this listing or an icon exist elsewhere, -- which an installation wizard for that program added or should -- we can never be sure whether a program author is lazy or incompetently writing their uninstall wizards which should in fact clean-up not only their programs but added applet and the system registry. We therefore learn from experience who to trust most of the time.
3. I've always heard, "If you don't like how something is done, do it yourself." I use the "Fee" based PCMag utility "Inctrl5" to help with the job. If I have the choice -- and most of the time I do, anything installed in downloaded first, placed in the folder I want, and then I use the "setup" or "install" program to place it on my computer where wanted. But like anything else, control is accomplished before anything is started, not after-the-fact.
4. Since you've mentioned video adapter drivers and may be interested:
a. Start the System Registry Editor. Simply type regedit in the RUN box and then press Enter.
b. Click on the Plus box in front of HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE to expand it. Continue clicking/expanding appropriate folders (each word preceded by a slash) until reaching the last labeled, Display. Click it, to bold/highlight.
c. Please note that underneath this address in the left window, you'll most likely find one or more addresses labeled with either four zeros or three zeros and then a 1, 2, etc.
Note: We are only interested in the last adapter installed which would be the one with the highest numeric number after the first three zeros only. You can verify this by checking all the key names "DriverDesc" for each address in the right window and you'll find the one dipicting the lastest adapter installation.
d. Click Registry in the main menu and select Exit. Or simply click the x in the URHC of the window to close the Registry Editor tool.
Hint: Usually when I find other or older video adapter drivers resident in the system registry which I feel are useless, I remove them.
5. The article [Q141497] describes how to use Device Manager to check the status of a resource (such as an IRQ line, DMA channel, memory address range, or I/O address range) and stresses the importance of checking the status of a resource when installing a new device or when a resource conflict is suspected that cause a device not to function.
a. When the operating system does not correctly find and identify installed devices and drivers (gives you a hassle about having to insert the CD so it can go through the process of procuring them -- again), you and I both know those files (drivers) are still on the hard disk somewhere and hopefully not corrupt, so simply point Windows to the correct location to satisfy the query (usually the System folder will do). In some instances, it may actually be necessary to use "Add New Hardware" to reinstall a "device manually" (Click to see an example screenshot). This can be done by clicking, Change Driver, Show All Devices, and in the "Manufacturers" box, click the manufacturer of the device in the "Models" box and then click the driver wanted. Click OK. If a device is currently listed in DM with problems, remove it first from there -- as well as from anywhere else it may be recorded.
b. The article [Q311261] discusses a procedure for removing duplicate CD-ROM devices listed in Windows Device Manager by restarting the computer in Safe Mode, but could apply to any other device as well. Please be advised that anytime there appears to be a problem with devices -- or not in some cases - just do it, boot the system in Safe Mode, progress to Device Manager, check every item listed for duplicates (more than one item of the exact same device) and remove each and every one. Upon completing the entire tasks, then reboot the computer and note that Windows will restructure itself and the appropriate device(s) it finds present on the computer.
c. Remember, an item removed from Device Manager only removes the entry from the system registry (where the records of every item in DM is kept -- files or drivers are not actually deleted). Device and driver identification reflected in DM is received from the system registry and is simply displayed for the user's convenience. Normally, if Windows does not find a resident device installed (present and identified by the CMOS) at the time of boot or reboot, the information read from the registry is simply ignored and nothing is displayed.
Warning: Even though the above information may appear rational, if device information such as a modem is still recorded as installed in another Windows section and using resources, that section along with DM queries during boot will ensure an entry is re-recorded even though the device may not physically exist. Always ensure that a device (such as a modem) is removed from every applicable section throughout all Control Panel applets as well as DM to preclude this anomaly.
d. Anytime a system boots or is rebooted, Windows reads the system registry to identify resident devices and ensures they are listed. If the operating system cannot identify a resident device or cannot find proper drivers, it displays a device code and leaves it up to the user to determine the cause and fix, [Q125174].