A phone should detect a SIM installed as long as the phone uses that kind of SIM. Also, the SIM has to be active with whatever carrier you are using it through. If not, then the phone won't use it.
Now if you are talking SD card (for storage) rather than a SIM card (for service) then that is a different story and used a different way.
However, neither of them would require any software downloads. Either the phone can detect the card or it can't. If it isn't, then there is either something wrong with the phone's hardware, something wrong with the card, or as mentioned above (in the case of a SIM card) the card doesn't have active service.