Microsoft has published a new document detailing the end of servicing of third-party printer drivers on Windows. The idea is to stop providing manufacturer-made drivers via Windows Update in favor of the Microsoft IPP Class Driver and Mopria-compliant print devices (native support introduced with Windows 10 version 21H2).
The change removes the need for printer manufacturers to provide dedicated installers and drivers while still offering customers print customization via Microsoft Store apps. Another benefit of the approach is performance and reliability improvements alongside broad compatibility across Windows versions and editions.
The company understands that the end of servicing v3 and v4 printer drivers is a big change that will impact many customers. Therefore, Microsoft will stage it over "multiple years." Here is the timeline:
- September 2023: The initial announcements.
- 2025: Manufacturers can no longer publish new printer drivers to Windows Update. However, they can still service and update existing drivers.
- 2026: Microsoft changes the printer driver ranking order to make Windows favor the inbox IPP Class Driver.
- 2027: Third-party printer driver updates are no longer available, except for security-related fixes. However, existing third-party drivers remain accessible.
Microsoft adds that manufacturers can continue providing customers with "alternative means" to download printer drivers. In other words, you will be able to install printer drivers from official or third-party websites. Microsoft says it does not plan to prevent users from using separate installation packages or remove features from existing v3 and v4 printer drivers.
The new driver policies will apply to all Windows versions. Also, Microsoft will make Mopria certification a must for Hardware Lab Kit (a certification that ensures a printer is compatible with a broad range of devices, including PCs, smartphones, tablets, etc).
You can learn more about the end-of-servicing plan for third-party printer drivers on Windows from the official documentation.