According the article, Microsoft will allow IPP Class Driver and Mopria-compliant print devices, the latter of which got native with Windows 10 version 21H2. These will be supported instead of manufacturer-made drivers via Windows Update. This means that printer manufacturers won’t have to provide dedicated drivers, which is already a huge benefit to them.
On the consumer end, manufacturers can still offer print customization via Microsoft Store apps. Thanks to the much more streamlined and standardized approach to drivers, another consumer benefit is that there will be plenty of performance and reliability improvements alongside broad compatibility across Windows versions and editions.
The FAQ also details that Mopria certification will be a mandatory requirement for HLK (Hardware Lab Kit). It ensures printers will be compatible with other devices, including PCs, smartphones, tablets, and more: another benefit for buyers who won’t have to check compatibility themselves.
Of course, Microsoft has a planned timeline to slowly faze out v3 and v4 third-party driver support, which will take place over several years until 2027. Below you can see the full timetable.
|September 2023||Announce legacy third-party printer driver for Windows end of servicing plan.|
|2025||No new printer drivers will be published to Windows Update. Existing printer drivers on Windows Update can still be updated.|
|2026||Printer driver ranking order modified to always prefer Windows IPP inbox class driver.|
|2027||Except for security-related fixes, third-party printer driver updates will no longer be allowed. Existing third-party printer drivers can be installed from Windows Update or users can install printer drivers using printer manufactures installer programs.|
It’s important to note that even when the switchover is complete, buyers will still have access to any existing third-party drivers. This means your old printer that’s still kicking won’t be rendered useless once support ends and only first-party drivers are updated.
Windows 11 is still bad
This move is absolutely the right decision from Microsoft, as first-party drivers make installation and maintenance much simpler. I recall my own headaches tracking down and installing old drivers for my Brother printer; having the option to just use one from Microsoft would have saved me plenty of trouble.
That said, it would be nice if Microsoft could be so considerate when it comes to literally anything else involving Windows 11. For instance, its obsession with getting users to upgrade to Windows 11 is annoying at best and downright enraging at worst. Also the tons of bloatware included with pre-built PCs and laptops, the aggressive ads in the Start Menu, the popular features in previous versions that were dropped in Windows 11, etc.
And that’s not even the tip of the iceberg, with plenty more issues and problems that have been plaguing the OS. Guess you can’t win them all. Or even most of them.