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11-05-2009 11:49 AM
A printer driver is like a translator, enabling your PC to talk to your printer and do things like print, scan and fax. Printers and PC's use different command languages and communication protocols and they are different for every printer model and computer operating system.
A printer driver is specific to the exact model of printer, its command language, its printing mechanism (inks, nozzle arrangement for inkjets, formatting protocols for lasers) and its features (like automatic duplexing, multiple paper trays, etc.). Many printers have variations within a range. For example, the HP PhotoSmart 4200 has 11 different models within the range. Each of these models requires a variation of the basic driver and are tested separately.
Aside from printer models, printer drivers are specific to the operating system they run within. XP, Vista and Windows 7 use different drivers for the same printer. Printer drivers also have specific features depending on how the printer is connected (USB, wireless, Ethernet, etc.).
So, what does it take to make a printer driver? It depends. For a printer models similar to one another, it may be a quick modification of an existing driver. If the printer has a completely new printing mechanism (inks, nozzles, etc.) it may take over a year to create a new driver. If there is a new computer operating system, it is often a significant effort to re-write existing drivers. But writing the driver is neither the hardest nor the most time consuming part of the process, it’s testing it.
Each printer model number has to be tested separately and with a huge variety of applications, from MS Word to commonly used freeware. There are literally rooms full of printer models running on computers with a new operating system printing from dozens of different applications. This process takes a long time and is very labor intensive. If a defect is found, it has to be fixed and the entire testing process re-started. It often takes longer and costs more money to test a printer driver than to create one.
In the case of a major operating system upgrade like Windows 7, HP has to take a close look at a number of considerations to choose for which HP printers to create new drivers. It costs HP many thousands of dollars and many months to update and test a driver for a new operating system. HP has been busy creating and publishing printer drivers in preparation for the introduction of Windows 7. HP and Microsoft partnered to include drivers in the Windows 7 operating system for the majority of HP imaging and printing products introduced in recent years.
Here is a list of printer drivers currently available for Windows 7.
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I am employed by HP
04-20-2010 02:30 AM
Perhaps its time to try and reinvent the way printer drivers are created?
Would it not be possible to reuse code between models and ranges, using a modular approach similar to that envisaged by object oriented programming. In theory, if the driver for a certain nozzle works for one printer, it should work for all devices using the same nozzle, etc. etc. while one may want to ultimately test each combination, with some carefull planning, you would only really need to debug the nozzle module (etc. etc.) once, and (say) 98% of the time it would work for all other devices. Similarly you might want to think about structuring models and ranges when in the planning phase to facilitate exploitation of the foregoing.
Admittedly I'm not technically competent in any of the above, so maybe my ideas are just hot air, but if not, there could be enormous savings in development and TESTING, which would translate to more profits and happier customers. It may also enable you to release drivers that you normally would not bother with - even if they are offered without support or guarantees and perhaps may only 'work' say 85% of the time - for some customers this would be the difference between being able to extend the life of a printer or being forced to purchase (possibly from another vendor?) - or staying on older versions of windows.
04-20-2010 04:04 AM
Moved to Printers and All-In-Ones - Printer, All-in-One Software and drivers
04-28-2010 03:08 AM - last edited on 04-28-2010 06:53 AM by WendyM
What are drivers?
Drivers are small software program that help control devices attached to your computer because drivers enable your operating system and other software to communicate with various hardware devices, controllers, and other peripherals. In other words, drivers work as instruction manuals that provide software with the information with regard to controlling and communicating with different hardware devices.
Why do we need drivers?
Drivers help computers identify and run installed hardware. A device driver is a code that an operating system uses to control disk devices, display adapters, input devices such as a mouse or trackball, modems, fax machines, printers, and other hardware. Without drivers, computers will not be able to distinguish between a sound card and a modem. Most computer devices and peripherals need drivers to run, which means that computer accessories, such as printers, scanners and digital cameras also need drivers to function. This is what all computer hardware and accessories that are purchased come with drivers stored in either a floppy disk or a CD. A computer automatically loads the drivers when these disks are inserted in their respective drives.
Like any other software, drivers are upgraded and updated by the manufacturers to remove bugs, add extra functionality to the hardware or to improve the performance of the device. Unless you update your drivers regularly you may face problems ranging from the relatively minor, such as having hardware that seems to perform poorly, to the more major problems such as hardware failure, hardware conflicts and complete system crashes.
Choosing and installing the correct device drivers for a given hardware is often a key component of computer system configuration.
Where you can get Drivers?
Drivers can also be downloaded from the websites of hardware manufacturers. You can download the most recent or updated drivers for your hardware. You can do this by navigating through each manufacturer’s website and searching for the page that allows you to download drivers for their products. However, there are some software (ex. driver robot) that automatically scans your computer, looks for the drivers you need, and automatically installs them to your computer. These kinds of software are very easy to use and they can ensure that you will have the most up-to-date driver for your devices.