Microsoft ends printer driver installations and updates via Windows Update
Windows users who connect a printer to a PC may notice one of two things: the printer is detected automatically and usable right away, or it is not. It is then necessary in the latter case to go hunting for drivers for that printer to install them manually on the system.
Microsoft just made an announcement that ends printer driver servicing. What Microsoft means by this is that, in the coming years, printer manufacturers may no longer distribute their drivers via Windows Update.
Microsoft wants printer manufacturers to use a standardized printer driver for connectivity and Print Support Apps for functionality. These UWP applications are distributed via the Microsoft Store, and they may be installed automatically if a supported printer is discovered.
The default printer driver is the Microsoft IPP Class Driver, which provides "inbox support for Mopria compliant printer devices over network and USB interfaces". The Mopria Alliance was formed in 2013 by Canon, HP, Samsung and Xerox with the goal to create universal standards and solutions for scan and print. Today's members include, in addition to the four founding members, Brother, Epson, Qualcomm, Microsoft, Lexmark, Kyocera, Adobe and several others.
Members have created more than 6000 printer models that support the standard. Furthermore, Mopia print technology is supported on more than 3 billion installations as of today. The Certified Products page on the Mopria website provides lists of supported printer devices.
As far as the timeline is concerned, Microsoft wants to make the changes in the coming four years. Here are the details:
- September 2023 -- Initial announcement about the end of legacy third-party printer drivers via Windows Update.
- 2025 -- Manufactures may not publish new printer drivers to Windows Update anymore. Existing printer drivers may still be updated.
- 2026 -- Microsoft modifies the ranking order of printer drivers to prefer the standardized drivers.
- 2027 -- Third-party printer drivers may no longer be updated via Windows Update. The only exception to the rule is updates that address security issues.
Manufacturers may continue to create and distribute printer installation packages independently of Windows Update; this also means that old printers continue to be supported, provided that a driver is available for the device.
Microsoft reassures administrators and users that Windows won't prevent the installation of new print drivers via separate installation packages, even after the year 2027. Existing features supported by printer drivers won't be removed from Windows either after end of servicing, according to the FAQ on the Microsoft website.
The end of servicing change applies to all Windows versions and editions, including Windows 10 and 11.
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