Many Bluetooth devices install third-party device drivers which disable the Microsoft generic Bluetooth software or "stack" in older versions of Windows, and prevent it from loading. Other devices, notably Blackberry cell phones, will only connect to a PC that is running Microsoft's Bluetooth drivers. Running more than one set of Bluetooth drivers can cause stability problems and is not advisable. In order to allow the Microsoft drivers to load, you must uninstall any third-party Bluetooth drivers.
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Uninstall the third-party drivers through Control Panel. Click on "Start" and "Control Panel," then click on "Add/Remove Programs" in Windows XP or "Uninstall a program" in Vista. Locate the third-party drivers and uninstall them.
Click on "Start" and "Run," then type "%windir%\inf" in the "Open" box and click "OK." Look for the file "bth.inf.old" or "bth.bak." If neither file is present, go to Step 3. Right-click on the file and select "Rename." Rename it to "bth.inf."
Restart the computer and connect your Bluetooth adaptor. Windows will detect the new hardware and the Microsoft Bluetooth stack will load automatically and install the correct drivers. If the original Microsoft stack is damaged and fails to recognise your Bluetooth device, you can reinstall Windows Bluetooth drivers from third-party sites or install the latest updates for your version of Windows from Microsoft. Microsoft doesn't provide a separate download of the Bluetooth drivers.
Download the free Bluetooth Driver Installer from BluetoothInstaller.com. Restart your computer and when Windows prompts for the Bluetooth driver, click "Cancel." Double-click on "BluetoothDriverInstaller.exe." Click "OK," check the box to accept the terms and conditions and click "Next." When the software has found the Bluetooth adaptor, click "Next" to install the driver. Click "Next" to test the Bluetooth adaptor and then click "Exit" to complete the installation.
Download Driver Whiz from the company's website (see References). Driver Whiz is a freeware program that will scan your system for any corrupt or missing Windows Bluetooth Drivers and update them automatically to the latest compatible version. Click on the EXE program file to start the download and select "Run" in Internet Explorer or "Save As" in Firefox. Click "Run" and follow the installation instructions on-screen. Driver Whiz will create a System Restore Point before installing new drivers.
Download the latest updates for your version of Windows from Microsoft. For Windows XP, go to the Windows Update Center on the Microsoft website. In later versions of Windows, click "Start," click "All Programs" and then click "Windows Update." If Windows detects any important updates, install them by clicking on the link "Install Updates." Restart your computer when prompted.
Tips and warnings
- Some brands of computer ship with their own version of the generic Bluetooth drivers. In order to restore them, follow the instructions in your user manual.
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- Microsoft: Cannot Install a Bluetooth Device After You Install Windows XP Service Pack 2
- Microsoft: How to Remove Bluetooth Wireless Device Support in Windows XP Service Pack 2
- Techbliss Online: Bluetooth Driver--Download Free
- Driver Whiz: Windows Bluetooth Drivers | Download & Update Windows Bluetooth Drivers
- Microsoft: How to Troubleshoot Bluetooth Detection and Connectivity Problems in Windows XP Service Pack 2