b1gapl, i was pretty darn sure that windows couldn't make use of a video card at all without any driver installed, as then it would have to have specific support for a ridiculous amount of cards BUILT INTO WINDOWS itself (think how many different video cards there are) and was going to make a big long post to refute your point, but right before I posted I researched it for a bit and found out you are indeed right, makes me think 'holy crap windows has a lot built into it', LOL.
from TweakGuides.com - Gamer's Graphics & Display Settings Guide
Step 1: application is launched (could be any app)
Step 2: data loads into ram
Step 3: cpu processes the data
Step 4: the Graphics Driver Translates the Data
****"The Operating System helps coordinate the allocation of data by the CPU, by using a specific Graphics Driver to translate the CPU instructions into a format that's optimal for the graphics card you are using."
"If you don't have a specific graphics driver installed for your card, WINDOWS HAS GENERIC GRAPHICS DRIVERS for most cards and will use this instead. While this generic driver allows your card to perform most graphics functions, it is NOT OPTIMAL AT ALL."
as far as understanding your computer and tweaking it, no one does it like tweakguides.com, recommend you all check it out but don't recommend their forums as they are too formal for 99.99% of pc users, still a great resource.
That brings clarity to me and hopefully some of you.