Print Management in Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8

It was an early sunny Saturday, when I sat down in the basement and configured a Windows Server 2012 print server!
A print server, the root of all evil, the misunderstood configuration medusa that makes every IT admin/user shed a tear of hatred/joy/sadness/anger every…. year? Week? Day? Second?

Why is this? Well, the drivers and the hardware have never been fully understood (configured right in the first place) which leaves a misconfigured Print Server and unsatisfied people, so I thought I’d let you know

What’s new in Windows 2012 Print Services and Print management!
The old print driver is a Version 3 which can lead to x86/x64 conflicts, oversized drivers, unneeded services, incompatibility with applications to mention a few things.

Starting with Windows 8 and Server 2012 – here comes the Version 4 drivers (class driver or model specific driver) which changes a couple of things…

 

But if you look in the “What’s new in Windows Server 2012” list on Technet, Print Services is not one of the key points.
So three of the main key points of a Windows Server 2012 Print server are1. There is no v3 driver support for Windows on ARM
2. The print server is no longer a software distribution mechanism
3. Group Policy Preference TCP/IP printers do not support Type 4 print drivers
4. The LPR/LPD protocol is deprecated and will eventually be removed

So how do I deploy a print server?

Micke Nyström promised he will write a blogpost on how to deploy printer drivers to the clients (MDT, SCCM) so I’ll leave that subject for now, but in short:

1. Install and share a printer on the server and select “List in the directory” so users can search for the printer.
2. Configure your print queues, separator pages etc. 
3. Do not install additional printer drivers on the server for clients to install. The clients will use the Microsoft enhanced Point and Print compatibility driver if it’s a Vista or Windows 7 client, and yepp, you guessed it, Windows 8 will have the V4 drivers available.

The point of all this is that printers were made for printing, if you want to configure the size of the paper, type of color and so on you shouldn’t have to package that into a separate print driver which needs to remain on the print server.

IF, however, you do have an old printer that only has a Version 3 driver and lots of fancy stuff which can’t be configured with the Microsoft enhanced Point and Print compatibility driver you can install a version 3 driver for the printer on the client, either with Windows Update or imaging (pre staging drivers in deployment).

If I may try to act ahead of administrators out there Theoretically and Technically In the Future our hardware printers will support all operating systems and application configurations of printers on the client side, so the question is if we need a print server at all…? You walk nearby the hardware, automatically the printer shows up, you configure the printer settings for the document or picture in your Windows 8 application and print the document to network printer.
…So the print server becomes a distribution point where you manage permissions…? I have no idea, but it seems logical to me.

So what I did on Saturday was:
1. Install a Windows Server 2012 printer
2. Installed all of the “old” printers with their IP addresses and picked the V4 driver (class driver) for the printer. Here I noticed that if I searched for drivers with Windows Update it removed some of the printers from the list…?
3. Configured the printer settings and clicked List in the Directory
4…. That’s it…



More information/considerations on this subject

The best page to find out more is the
Print and Documents Services Overview page, below are some notes that I found extra interesting and copied from the TechNet page:

Print and Document Services Architecture
One new aspect of the v4 print driver model is a focus on providing print class drivers. These special v4 print drivers, which implement only functionality that is common across a broad class of devices, are shipped with Windows and are marked as generic. As a result, Windows can automatically replace the driver with a better option from Windows Update, providing the end user with a better experience as soon as it is available.

There are several things you must consider when managing migrations using v3 print drivers. The first is that a print queue cannot function without the native printer driver for the server architecture (x86 or x64) on which it exists. Since Windows Server 2012 is a 64-bit only operating system, it is important that you have 64-bit drivers installed for all of your printers if you are migrating from a 32-bit system.

The line printer daemon protocol (LPR/LPD) is deprecated.
When this feature is eventually removed, clients that print to a server using this protocol, such as UNIX clients, will not be able to connect or print. Instead, UNIX clients should use IPP. Windows clients can connect to UNIX shared printers using the Windows Standard Port Monitor (see http://support.microsoft.com/kb/246868for more information).

There is no v3 driver support for Windows on ARM.
Running Windows on an ARM processor changes the paradigm with regard to power utilization and driver behaviors. The v4 print driver model supports printers on ARM with print class drivers while still allowing rich end user experiences thanks to a decoupled UI development model.

Prior Windows 8 then?
Operating systems prior to Windows 8 do not support the v4 driver model but can print to a v4 queue shared from a Windows Server 2012 print server by using the enhanced Point and Print Compatibility Driver which is hosted by any print server running Windows Server 2012.

Customized User Interfaces
V4 print drivers support customized user interfaces in both the Windows desktop and in the new Windows user interface. Due to the very different nature of these experiences, these UIs must be implemented as two different applications.
Printer extensions support v4 print drivers in the desktop and work with all existing applications. They also work in printer sharing scenarios with the enhanced Point and Print driver. Support is planned for all operating systems from Windows Vista through Windows 8.

V3 Printer Driver history
The prior model relied on both the server and the client computers using identical drivers; given the different supported architectures for Windows (x86, x64, and SoC systems) getting the right matching driver can be a difficult proposition. Incompatibilities between driver versions can cause client connection errors, and establishing connections can take a significant amount of time.
The overall goal of both the new v4 driver model and the sharing implementation that supports it is to make the end-user and administrative experience as easy as possible.

Features that define the changes that were made to printer sharing in Windows 8.
Clients can use enhanced Point and Print to generate print jobs that the server can use without using a device specific driver.

Servers can encapsulate the configuration and capabilities of the printer and communicate that data to a client computer in a way that the client computers can use without needing a device specific driver.

 The print server is no longer a software distribution mechanism.
Previous versions of Windows provided a mechanism by which print clients could obtain a driver from the print server. For reasons of security, compatibility, serviceability, and reliability, this functionality has been removed from the v4 driver model and enhanced Point and Print. Downlevel client computers will still be able to receive the enhanced Point and Print Compatibility driver from Windows Server 2012 servers to enable compatibility with v4 print shares. Client computers running Windows 8 have enhanced Point and Print support built into the operating system, and they can use standard point and print mechanisms to obtain matching v3 drivers if the administrator wants to continue using older drivers. Device specific v4 drivers can also be deployed to Windows 8clients, or downloaded from Windows Update/WSUS in order to provide additional features or capabilities, such as client side rendering when connecting to enhanced Point and Print shares.
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