USB ContainerIDs in Windows

This paper provides information about USB ContainerIDs for the Windows operating system. It includes guidelines for device manufacturers to program their multifunction USB devices so that they can be correctly detected by Windows.

Starting in Windows 7, users can take advantage of all the capabilities of the devices that are connected to their computers. This includes multifunction devices, such as a combination printer, scanner, and copier device. Windows 7 includes support for consolidating all the functionality of a single physical device into a device container. A device container is a virtual representation of the physical device. This consolidation is achieved by assigning a ContainerID property to each device function that is enumerated for the physical device. By assigning the same ContainerID value to each device function, Windows 7 recognizes that all device functions belong to the same physical device.

All types of devices that connect to a computer through different bus types can support device containers. However, not all bus types use the same mechanism for generating a ContainerID. For USB devices, device vendors can use a ContainerID descriptor to describe the ContainerID for a physical device. A ContainerID descriptor is a Microsoft OS feature descriptor that can be stored in the USB device's firmware. USB device manufacturers must correctly implement these ContainerID descriptors in their devices to take advantage of the new device capabilities that are available in Windows 7. USB device manufacturers need to implement only a single ContainerID for each physical device, regardless of how many device functions are supported by the device.

For more information about consolidating all the functionality of a single device into a device container, see Multifunction Device Support and Device Container Groupings.

For more information about Microsoft OS descriptors for USB devices, see Microsoft OS Descriptors for USB Devices.

How a USB ContainerID Is Generated

The following are two ways to generate a ContainerID for a USB device:

  • The manufacturer of the USB device specifies the ContainerID in the device's firmware by using a Microsoft OS ContainerID descriptor.
  • The Microsoft USB hub driver automatically creates a ContainerID for the device from the combination of the device's product ID (PID), vendor ID (VID), revision number, and serial number. In this situation, the Microsoft USB hub driver creates a ContainerID with minimal functionality. This method applies only to devices that have a unique serial number.

USB ContainerID Contents

A USB ContainerID is presented to the operating system in the form of a universally unique identifier (UUID) string. The ContainerID UUID is contained within a ContainerID descriptor. A ContainerID descriptor is a device-level Microsoft OS feature descriptor. As such, when the operating system requests a USB ContainerID, the wValue field of the descriptor request must always be set to zero. For more information about Microsoft OS feature descriptors and descriptor requests, see Microsoft OS 1.0 Descriptors Specification.

A ContainerID descriptor consists of a header section.

OffsetFieldSizeTypeDescription
0dwLength4Unsigned DWordThe length, in bytes, of the entire ContainerID descriptor. This field must always be set to a value of 0x18.
4bcdVersion2BCDThe version number of the ContainerID descriptor, in binary coded decimal (BCD), where each nibble corresponds to a digit. The most-significant byte (MSB) contains the two digits before the decimal point, and the least-significant byte (LSB) contains the two digits after the decimal point. For example, version 1.00 is represented as 0x0100. This field must always be set to 0x0100.
6wIndex2WordThis field is always set to 6 for USB ContainerID descriptors.

 

A ContainerID descriptor consists of a ContainerID section.

OffsetFieldSizeTypeDescription
0bContainerID16Unsigned DWordContainerID data.

 

Device manufacturers are responsible for ensuring that each instance of a device has a universally unique 16-byte value for the ContainerID. Also, a device must report the same ContainerID value each time it is powered on.

There are several established algorithms for generating UUIDs with almost zero chance of duplication. Device manufacturers can select the UUID generation algorithm that best suits their needs. It does not matter which UUID generation algorithm is used as long as the result is unique.

USB ContainerID Syntax

A ContainerID is reported in the standard UUID string format of {xxxxxxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxxxxxxxxxx}. The following is an example representation in firmware for a 0C B4 A7 2C D1 7B 25 4F B5 73 A1 3A 97 5D DC 07 USB ContainerID, which is formatted as a {2CA7B40C-7BD1-4F25-B573-A13A975DDC07} UUID string.


UCHAR Example<mark type="member">ContainerID</mark>Descriptor[24] =
{
    0x18, 0x00, 0x00, 0x00,     // dwLength - 24 bytes
    0x00, 0x01,                 // bcdVersion - 1.00
    0x06, 0x00,                 // wIndex – 6 for a <mark type="member">ContainerID</mark>

    0x0C, 0xB4, 0xA7, 0x2C,     // b<mark type="member">ContainerID</mark> -
    0xD1, 0x7B, 0x25, 0x4F,     // {2CA7B40C-7BD1-4F25-B573-A13A975DDC07}
    0xB5, 0x73, 0xA1, 0x3A,     // 0C B4 A7 2C D1 7B 25 4F B5 73 A1 3A 97 5D DC 07
    0x97, 0x5D, 0xDC, 0x07      //
}


Note the change in the byte order of the first 8 bytes when it is formatted as a UUID string.

Microsoft OS Descriptor Changes

To preserve legacy ContainerID functionality, a new flags field has been added to the Microsoft OS string descriptor that can be used to indicate support for the ContainerID descriptor.

The current definition of the Microsoft OS string descriptor includes a 1-byte pad field, bPad, at the end of the descriptor that is normally set to zero. For USB devices that support the new ContainerID, the bPad field is redefined as a flags field, bFlags. Bit 1 of this field is used to indicate support for the ContainerID descriptor. Table 3 describes the fields of the Microsoft OS string descriptor for USB devices.

FieldLength (bytes)ValueDescription
bLength10x12Length of the descriptor.
bDescriptorType10x03Descriptor type. A value of 0x03 indicates a Microsoft OS string descriptor.
qwSignature14 ‘MSFT100’Signature field.
bMS_VendorCode1Vendor CodeVendor code.
bFlags10x02

Bit 0: Reserved

Bit 1: ContainerID Support

  • 0: Does not support ContainerID
  • 1: Supports ContainerID

Bits 2–7: Reserved

 

Currently shipping USB devices that support the Microsoft OS descriptor but do not support the ContainerID descriptor have the bPad field set to 0x00. The USB hub driver does not query such devices for the USB ContainerID descriptor.

Container View of a USB Multifunction Device

The ContainerID provides information to consolidate devices for multifunction USB devices. Figure 1 shows an example of how all devices in a multifunction printer are consolidated into a single device container when all individual devices within the product use the same ContainerID.

Consolidation of all devices in a multifunction printer

By consolidating all devices for a multifunction USB device, the physical product can be shown as a single device in Devices and Printers in Windows 7. Figure 2 shows an example of a USB multifunction keyboard and mouse device that appears as a single device in Devices and Printers.

multifunction device in Devices and Printers

USB ContainerID HCK Requirements

Device manufacturers must ensure that each instance of a device that they produce has a globally unique ContainerID value so that Windows can successfully consolidate the functionality of each USB multifunction device. The Windows Hardware CertificationWindows Hardware Certification Kit includes a requirement, DEVFUND-0034, for a USB ContainerID if it is implemented in a device. If a device implements a USB ContainerID, the Windows Hardware Certification tests the ContainerID as part of the Microsoft OS Descriptor tests and checks whether the ContainerID value is globally unique. For more details on these Windows Hardware Certification requirements, see the Windows Hardware Certification Web site.

Recommendations for Implementing a USB ContainerID The following are recommendations for device vendors that design, manufacture, and ship USB devices:

  • Learn how Windows 7 improves the support for multifunction and multiple transport USB devices through the use of a ContainerID. We recommend that you start by reading “Multifunction Device Support and Device Container Groupings in Windows 7.”
  • Make sure that the serial number on each USB device is unique. A Windows Hardware Certification requirement states that, if your device includes a serial number, the serial number must be unique for each instance of your device. For more information about the WLK test for USB serial numbers, see ”USB Serial Number” on MSDN®.
  • Do not provide a ContainerID for a USB device that is embedded in a system. Integrated USB devices should rely on ACPI BIOS settings or the USB hub descriptor DeviceRemovable bit for the port.
  • Ensure that all USB devices that are attached to a system have unique ContainerID values. Do not share ContainerID values or USB serial numbers across your product lines.
  • Make sure to set the Removable Device Capability correctly for your device.

    Note  Device vendors that add a USB ContainerID descriptor to a previously shipping USB device must increment the device release number (bcdDevice) in the device’s device descriptor. This is required because the USB hub driver caches the Microsoft OS string descriptor (or the lack of one) based on a device’s vendor ID, product ID, and device release number. If you do not increment the device release number, the hub driver does not query for the USB ContainerID of a new device if it previously enumerated an instance of the device with the same vendor ID, product ID, and device release number that did not support the USB ContainerID descriptor.

Related topics

Building USB devices for Windows
Container IDs for USB Devices

 

 

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