Scott Hanselman

Additional Automatic Printer Driver Installation with Vista 64 as a Print Server

August 08, 2007 Comment on this post [8] Posted in Tools
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Now that I'm running Vista 64, while most everything is running very smoothly, there's an occasional reminder here and there that I'm living in an alternate universe.

I'm still running a Canon Pixma MP500 Multifunction Inkjet and the fact that Vista 64 drivers were available for download confirmed that this Printer was a great decision.

However, when I tried to connect from one of my XP VMs or from my Wife's Vista32 machine, I was told that Drivers weren't available. I'm used to connecting to a printer in Windows "just working." I just visit the machine, like \\QUADPOWER, hit the Printers folder and double click the Printer. In this case, my system had only the 64-bit drivers I had already installed.

Here's how to tell your 64-bit system that it has 32-bit drivers it can serve to the family (or the reverse):

  1. From your server, go to the Printers folder and right click to get your Printer's Properties. Click the Sharing Tab and click Additional Drivers. You'll see this dialog or something like it.
    Additional Drivers

    Here you can see that the only driver available is x64 on my system. Click the x86 checkbox and click OK. You'll be prompted for an INF file - the new printer driver. Now you need to find the Printer Driver...
  2. Go get the 32-bit Driver for your printer. In my case the 32-bit Vista Driver was packaged in a WinZip EXE and it refused to run on this 64-bit system.

    Trick: Because it's a WinZip Self-Extracting Archive, I renamed it from .EXE to a .ZIP file and unzipped it into a folder using the standard Windows unzip facilities..

    Next I pointed the Open File Dialog from before at the folder with the 32-bit Printer's INF files. In my case it was called Drivers so it was obvious. Sometimes you'll have to dig, but the are in there. You'll know you found it when the Additional Drivers dialog looks like this:
    Additional Drivers (2)

Now I can point my XP or Vista machine at the Vista 64 \\QUADPOWER machine and it'll automatically install the correct drivers for the client machine.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Hosted in an Azure App Service
August 08, 2007 0:54
Interesting, will have to keep that in mind when I start running 64bit Vista..

BTW: Typo in 1st sentence: living, not leaving?
August 08, 2007 1:06
Thanks, fixed.
August 08, 2007 1:46
Thanks Scott.

Out of curiosity, though, why not use a network printer instead of sharing it via your PC?
August 08, 2007 4:31
Coleman - A few reasons. One, I have this printer and it works nicely. Two, I don't know a lot about Print Servers (appliances) and wouldn't they need drivers loaded or made available? Otherwise I'd have to pre-install the print drivers before connecting, right?
August 08, 2007 13:06
Scott, thanks for the info. I also have a Canon Pixma MP500 multifunction printer but mine is shared via a print server. In Windows XP I did not have any problems (except having to occasionally reset the print server when restarting my wireless access point) but in Vista I have not been able to connect to the printer at all. I did not have to preload printer drivers on the print server -- when adding the printer in Win XP, I just had to manually select the driver. I'm not sure if this answers your question to Coleman. I'm still playing with the setup and will let you know if I figure out how this is supposed to work :-). By the way, I enjoy your blog. Thanks!

-- Deus est ergo cogito
August 08, 2007 14:15

Some print servers can serve the appropriate driver to the client. Some can't. I had a network capable HP OfficeJet that was UPnP. It installed the drivers itself along with advertising it's network file sharing capabilities. It had an embedded card reader (SD, CF, etc.) and advertised that reader as a network device. Pretty cool. I've since "upgraded" to a Minolta that I had to share via my PC since it's only interface is USB.

I loves me some network capable printers though. :-)
August 08, 2007 18:02
I have a BuffaloTech LinkStation NAS that has a built in print server, and attached my HP PhotoSmart printer via the USB port on the back. It doesn't serve the drivers (it's actually a *nix based device) so I had to manually install them from XP. Unfortunately HP doesn't provide a driver for Vista, but they recommend using a driver from a comparable model and that seems to be working fine.
August 08, 2007 22:01
Why not just create a local TCP-IP based printer on each client. Give it the IP address of your printer and then install the driver. This way you can still print from your client PCs, since the printer would always be up.

I gave up trying to host a print server in my house a long time ago -- plus you have to deal with authentication and junk. Seems a lot simpliar to let the printer server on the printer take care of it; especially in a home environment.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.