Microsoft ending support for third-party printer drivers is good news for you
Microsoft has revealed in a new document that it will no longer control third-party printer drivers on devices running Windows OS, including Windows 11.
According to the articleMicrosoft will allow IPP Class Driver and Mopria-compatible printing devices, the latter of which are native to Windows 10 version 21H2. These are supported instead of manufacturer-created drivers through Windows Update. This means that printer manufacturers do not have to provide special drivers, which is already a big advantage for them.
On the consumer side, manufacturers can still offer print customizations through Microsoft Store apps. Thanks to the much more streamlined and standardized approach to drivers, another benefit to consumers is that there will be many performance and reliability improvements, in addition to broad compatibility between Windows versions and editions.
The FAQ also mentions that Mopria certification will be a mandatory requirement for HLK (Hardware Lab Kit). It ensures printers are compatible with other devices including PCs, smartphones, tablets and more: another benefit for buyers who don’t have to check compatibility themselves.
Of course, Microsoft has a planned timeline to slowly phase out support for third-party v3 and v4 drivers, which will take place over several years until 2027. You can see the full timeline below.
|Announce an older third-party printer driver for the Windows end of maintenance plan.
|New printer drivers are not published to Windows Update. Existing printer drivers on Windows Update can still be updated.
|Printer driver ranking has been adjusted to always give preference to the Windows IPP driver in the Inbox class.
|With the exception of security-related fixes, third-party printer driver updates are no longer allowed. Existing third-party printer drivers can be installed through Windows Update, or users can install printer drivers using printer manufacturer installers.
It’s important to note that even when the switch is complete, buyers will still have access to existing third-party drivers. This means that your old printer that still works won’t become unusable once support ends and only the first party drivers are updated.
Windows 11 still sucks
This move is definitely the right decision by Microsoft, as first-party drivers make installation and maintenance much easier. I remember my own headache tracking down and installing old drivers for my Brother printer; If I had the option to just use one from Microsoft I would have saved a lot of trouble.
That said, it would be nice if Microsoft were this thoughtful when it comes to literally everything else related to Windows 11. For example, the obsession with to let users upgrade to Windows 11 is annoying at best and downright infuriating at worst. Also, the tons of bloatware that comes with pre-built PCs and laptops, the aggressive ads in the Start Menu, the popular features in previous versions that were removed in Windows 11, etc.
And that’s not even the tip of the iceberg many more problems and problems that plague the operating system. I guess you can’t win them all. Or even most of them.