Can JavaScript or the browser be used to detect whether or not a third-party application is installed?

Example: If I access a hardware vendor’s website in search of drivers for my a hardware device, the site appears to provide “smart” support that searches for the presence of a third-party tool that can then be used to download the correct drivers.

What I want to know is what type of JavaScript is running so that the web site itself has access to even detect the presence of a third-party executable since the browser itself cannot access the local file system.

Is this something JavaScript can even do or, more likely an function that runs, regardless of the presence of a tool? Would there have to be the presence of an add-in or plug-in installed in the browser that the site is able to query?