I’d wager almost everyone has a printer attached to their computer or shares one over a network. Microsoft says that over the years the system that allows users to print has evolved into a complicated architecture supporting printing to a huge array of printers. That print system touches multiple layers and facets of Windows according to Microsoft. Microsoft is talking a bit about the work done for Windows 8 to reimagine the print system and provide support for a number of devices to customers.
Windows 8 uses a new printer driver architecture that Microsoft calls version 4. This architecture uses smaller and faster print drivers and supports a print class driver framework. That idea behind that print class driver framework is to allow people to install a printer without needing a driver in many cases. Microsoft also mentions that it worked to determine how to give Metro app developers the ability to print. That resulted in the reinvention of how printing is enabled from Windows Runtime.
Microsoft says that in Windows 7 and earlier versions of the operating system, each printer needed a specific driver to work. That meant Microsoft had to include a huge number of drivers and operating systems. The picture you see here is one of Microsoft’s printer labs where it tests printer compatibility with new versions and updates for Windows. Rather than shipping many printer drivers with Windows 8, the operating system will use the printer class driver framework. The framework is extensible, supports printing to existing devices, and allows manufacturers to include support for new devices, even if they haven’t been designed yet. The goal was to make printers of all sorts “just work” with Windows 8 rather than having to install software.