Windows 8 printing features detailed

We are supposed to live in a world where we are using less and less paper, but the truth is there will also be a need for using physical media, even for printing digital documents and photos. In a new post on the official Windows 8 blog, Microsoft goes over some of the new printing features and improvements it has put into the OS.

The post states that the printer drivers in Windows 8 are actually the fourth major printer driver revision in Windows history. The previous version was used in Windows 2000 to Windows 7. Microsoft states, "The v4 architecture produces smaller, faster printer drivers, and it supports the idea of a print class driver framework--a system that allows people to install their printers without having to locate a driver for that device, in many cases."

Microsoft gives a number of details on how printing will work with Windows 8 Metro style apps. The Windows 8 print system works with a format called XML Paper Specification (also known as XPS) that uses high-fidelity color and is highly flexible. The blog states, "In Windows 8, we have a distinct improvement to this story because all Metro style apps use Direct2D as their basic drawing format, and Direct2D and XPS share the same XML-based graphics 'language.'"

Microsoft also wanted to make sure it supported a lot of printers for Windows 8, since people tend to keep their printers around for between five to seven years. Microsoft has a number of test beds for printer support such as the one shown above. Previous Windows versions have shipped with lots of different printer drivers; Microsoft said that Windows Vista shipped with 4,500 printer drivers, while Windows 7 included 2,100 drivers.

Windows 8 does away with this approach. The blog states:

Instead, we built a print class driver framework. This framework is extensible, as it supports printing to existing devices, but it also allows manufacturers to include support for new devices, even those that have not yet been designed. With a print class driver framework, we can get closer to giving you an experience like driverless printing, where you don't have to actually go and find a driver, but instead the printer just works with the Windows printing system.

Microsoft offers an example of what the Epson NX430 printer UI looks like in Windows 8 Metro. The blog states, "It includes an attractive view of the ink levels of the printer, and is much easier to use, especially on touch-screen devices." There will still be a desktop application for people who print with Windows 8 desktop apps.

Even the install times for a print driver has been cut down for Windows 8. The blog states, " ... we compared the installation times for an Epson Artisan on Windows 7 versus Windows 8 (using a relatively small driver on Windows 7): the install time on Windows 7 was 14 seconds, compared to under 2 seconds on Windows 8."

Source: Windows 8 blog | Images via Microsoft

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28 Comments

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I wonder if wp8 able to print as long as it's wifi range. I am under the impression that wp8 is shared core right? This Window 8 totally blows any other tablet, ipad, iphone whatever.

I would like it if print jobs could be forced out of the cue by pushing a button; when it goes bad, instead of stopping the spooler in services, deleting the spool folder contents, and restarting the spooler. I get that call from customers all the freaking time.

ok guys, so i bought a new epson workforce printer for the house the other day. installed it on another computer in the house over wifi. Went to the den outside to use my main computer and the printer automatically installed on my windows 8 RP rig. WTF? sweet!

I really, really hope this doesn't mean my printer won't work anymore. I've had it for around 10 years now and it's quality is still top-notch. The cartridges are still available, it's fast and it has automatic double-sided printing.

However, in Vista and 7 I already had to use an "alternative driver" that was for a way older printer since HP didn't release new drivers. If Windows 8 now doesn't support my printer (or a similar one) natively that means I won't be able to print at all. And that would seriously suck.

Not that I consider upgrading to Windows 8 though. Never.

Ambroos said,
I really, really hope this doesn't mean my printer won't work anymore. I've had it for around 10 years now and it's quality is still top-notch. The cartridges are still available, it's fast and it has automatic double-sided printing.

However, in Vista and 7 I already had to use an "alternative driver" that was for a way older printer since HP didn't release new drivers. If Windows 8 now doesn't support my printer (or a similar one) natively that means I won't be able to print at all. And that would seriously suck.

Not that I consider upgrading to Windows 8 though. Never.

My old HP DeskJet 5150 was installed automatically in win 8 rp.

Ambroos said,
I really, really hope this doesn't mean my printer won't work anymore. I've had it for around 10 years now and it's quality is still top-notch. The cartridges are still available, it's fast and it has automatic double-sided printing.

However, in Vista and 7 I already had to use an "alternative driver" that was for a way older printer since HP didn't release new drivers. If Windows 8 now doesn't support my printer (or a similar one) natively that means I won't be able to print at all. And that would seriously suck.

Not that I consider upgrading to Windows 8 though. Never.

1) Why do you even comment on the story lamenting the possible loss of support when you're not even interested in upgrading?

2) What part of 'HP didn't release new drivers' do you fail to grasp - it is HP's, not Microsoft's, responsibility to provide drivers. Yes, I say that a Mac user as well - it is the hardware vendors responsibility to provide drivers for their hardware and if their drivers are so poorly designed that it costs them a fortune to update them so a 10 year old printer can work with Windows 8 then that is the fault of the vendor itself.

Ambroos said,
Not that I consider upgrading to Windows 8 though. Never.

Then why are you concerned in the first place?

XPS (XAML) based printing has been around since Vista, but has been problematic getting MFRs to produce the higher quality drivers.

So instead on Vista/Win7 the OS will convert down to traditional drivers or up to newer drivers depending on the originating application and the framework compatibility.

With Vista, Xerox was a big supporter of XPS technology because it allowed them to produce simple and consistent driver technology that worked at the printer and press level with fidelity and color ranges not available in other technologies like the older Windows drivers models or using PDF or Postscript technology.

With XPS based drivers a print shop can deal with 'optimal' device fidelity in a single file format no matter how complex the content is, even including dynamic content. (Imagine printing an animation for example to a new paper display technology.)

With the current generation of Windows drivers, quality is not an issue, however, the complexity of the content has to be maintained at the application level, and then re-interpreted for the specific printer to achieve the best quality possible.

With both Postscript and PDF technology, complex fills and transparency and color ranges cannot accurately be reproduced in originating vector formats, so a large portion of the PDF content is rasterized, and locked to a DPI and color range. This works, but in the printing/press industry is a nightmare, as you are basically using PDFs as wrappers for high quality TIFFs bitmaps.

XPS moves the technology forward, allowing for high quality original vector content and complexity, at and beyond what Illustrator or other vector design technologies can produce, and then the output can be lighter files and still scale to the features of the printing device.


Nice to see Microsoft shove these drivers forward with Windows 8, and stop allowing the older drivers to stay around.

thenetavenger said,
XPS (XAML) based printing has been around since Vista, but has been problematic getting MFRs to produce the higher quality drivers.

So instead on Vista/Win7 the OS will convert down to traditional drivers or up to newer drivers depending on the originating application and the framework compatibility.

With Vista, Xerox was a big supporter of XPS technology because it allowed them to produce simple and consistent driver technology that worked at the printer and press level with fidelity and color ranges not available in other technologies like the older Windows drivers models or using PDF or Postscript technology.

With XPS based drivers a print shop can deal with 'optimal' device fidelity in a single file format no matter how complex the content is, even including dynamic content. (Imagine printing an animation for example to a new paper display technology.)

With the current generation of Windows drivers, quality is not an issue, however, the complexity of the content has to be maintained at the application level, and then re-interpreted for the specific printer to achieve the best quality possible.

With both Postscript and PDF technology, complex fills and transparency and color ranges cannot accurately be reproduced in originating vector formats, so a large portion of the PDF content is rasterized, and locked to a DPI and color range. This works, but in the printing/press industry is a nightmare, as you are basically using PDFs as wrappers for high quality TIFFs bitmaps.

XPS moves the technology forward, allowing for high quality original vector content and complexity, at and beyond what Illustrator or other vector design technologies can produce, and then the output can be lighter files and still scale to the features of the printing device.


Nice to see Microsoft shove these drivers forward with Windows 8, and stop allowing the older drivers to stay around.

The biggest benefit - Microsoft doesn't charge royalties on XPS implementations where as Adobe charges royalties on postscript printer vendors. Oh, and with XPS is is a clean design from the ground up without all the legacy issues that PDF and Postscript have.

I thought windows did this anyway? I mean I've never actually installed a printer driver unless I wanted to do something fancy like sharing it with the network.

s3n4te said,

Yes

No, what they are saying is that they have a new driver model that is platform agnostic. It will also work with many printer out of the bx without needing to download any new drivers

Sraf said,

No, what they are saying is that they have a new driver model that is platform agnostic. It will also work with many printer out of the bx without needing to download any new drivers

I didn't get that impression from reading the blog post, especially considering this:

"In-box drivers are essential for Windows RT

Sraf said,

No, what they are saying is that they have a new driver model that is platform agnostic. It will also work with many printer out of the bx without needing to download any new drivers

(my last attempt to post this got cut off and it won't let me edit it)
I didn't get that impression from reading the blog post, especially considering this:

"In-box drivers are essential for Windows RT-in fact, it uses only in-box printer drivers."

I believe each platform still has its own drivers. It's just that Computer A doesn't need a driver to use Computer B's printer, because Computer B handles the print job, with its own driver.

Josh the Nerd said,

(my last attempt to post this got cut off and it won't let me edit it)
I didn't get that impression from reading the blog post, especially considering this:

"In-box drivers are essential for Windows RT-in fact, it uses only in-box printer drivers."

I believe each platform still has its own drivers. It's just that Computer A doesn't need a driver to use Computer B's printer, because Computer B handles the print job, with its own driver.

That's a different part of this, where Windows right now will share necessary drivers across computers when accessing a different computer's printer over the network. For the driver agnosticism, they talk about how they are making the Driver V4 work on RT and x86, though you likely will not need to seek one out, as the new driver model allows for a a sort of "Universal" driver. The point is just that if you do need to seek out a driver, there is no difference between the x86 version and the ARM version

Handy article relating to this: http://www.winsupersite.com/ar...feed&utm_medium=twitter

Sraf said,

That's a different part of this, where Windows right now will share necessary drivers across computers when accessing a different computer's printer over the network. For the driver agnosticism, they talk about how they are making the Driver V4 work on RT and x86, though you likely will not need to seek one out, as the new driver model allows for a a sort of "Universal" driver. The point is just that if you do need to seek out a driver, there is no difference between the x86 version and the ARM version

Handy article relating to this: http://www.winsupersite.com/ar...feed&utm_medium=twitter

That article doesn't say anything about the drivers being cross-platform either. Can you provide a quote? I've already provided a quote saying Windows RT will only use the included drivers--meaning you can't "seek out" more drivers.

Josh the Nerd said,
That article doesn't say anything about the drivers being cross-platform either. Can you provide a quote? I've already provided a quote saying Windows RT will only use the included drivers--meaning you can't "seek out" more drivers.

The new printer API is available on Windows for ARM and Windows x86/x64 so if printer driver writers wish to target Windows ARM they'll have to re-write their drivers for the new API. I'm sure there will be some gotchas but the idea is to have a single API that spans accross the two platforms so that the driver developers only have to target one API and pretty much compile a version for x86, one for x64 and one for ARM. Hopefully with this move it'll result in driver vendors cleaning up their code as they focus on providing printing capabilities for Windows RT.

Regarding Windows RT using only built in drivers - that'll most likely mean that XPS compatible printers are now a requirement which means it'll operate very much like how a postscript printer operates - transform document to XPS then send it to the printer and the printer decodes the XPS 'stuff' and prints it. It's been around since the Windows Vista days but very few printer vendors could be bothered making their printers XPS compatible which will mean that some printers simply won't be compatible with Windows RT.

Mr Nom Nom's said,
The new printer API is available on Windows for ARM and Windows x86/x64 so if printer driver writers wish to target Windows ARM they'll have to re-write their drivers for the new API. I'm sure there will be some gotchas but the idea is to have a single API that spans accross the two platforms so that the driver developers only have to target one API and pretty much compile a version for x86, one for x64 and one for ARM. Hopefully with this move it'll result in driver vendors cleaning up their code as they focus on providing printing capabilities for Windows RT.

Regarding Windows RT using only built in drivers - that'll most likely mean that XPS compatible printers are now a requirement which means it'll operate very much like how a postscript printer operates - transform document to XPS then send it to the printer and the printer decodes the XPS 'stuff' and prints it. It's been around since the Windows Vista days but very few printer vendors could be bothered making their printers XPS compatible which will mean that some printers simply won't be compatible with Windows RT.

Just a follow up to my own post:

The framework can support additional printers over time and allows manufacturers to support upcoming devices, but it's tightly controlled to ensure device drivers are power-efficient and it also separates the UI part of printing.

It appears they'll provide drivers for Windows RT devices but not in the usual manner - I have a feeling that their requirements are going to be A LOT more stringent when reading the following verge article: http://www.theverge.com/2012/7...windows-rt-printing-support

Not really, it actually takes longer to install, since it has to open the dialog every time... a simple mouse installation took me 4-5 seconds more then usual...

Adnan Memija said,
Not really, it actually takes longer to install, since it has to open the dialog every time... a simple mouse installation took me 4-5 seconds more then usual...

Oh my! You're so clever!

Adnan Memija said,
Not really, it actually takes longer to install, since it has to open the dialog every time... a simple mouse installation took me 4-5 seconds more then usual...

Really 25 printers automatically installed on 4 of systems and didn't see one notification. Are you sure about this?

I'm talking about the first install. Works on Release Preview for every new device. Neowin reported in the earlier builds that it will be a new default procedure inside Windows.