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  1. #1
    Star Lounger
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    I upgraded a few months ago to a new computer with Windows 7 x64. I thought that this operating system had been around long enough to wok through driver issues, but I have endless problems installing printers and accessory devices. Basically, Windows takes over and installs a driver it selects, and I can find no way to stop this action. As an example, I have an old HP4100 printer than is connected with a parallel cable. I got a parallel to usb adapter, and tried plugging it in. Windows found a PCL6 driver right away. I thought I was set. However, many documents did not print correctly. I found that the PCL6 driver does not work well with this older printer. HP's web site had a universal driver for PCL5. However, I could find no way to have Windows give me the option to install this. I found a process under Printer Properties > Advanced to install a new driver. I tried that. I first selected a PCL 5 driver from Windows update. The update program said the driver was installed. However, every time I tried to access printer properties I got an error that the driver was not installed. I don't know if this is a failure of the "install new driver" process or the driver I downloaded from Windows Update, but I could not get it to work. Beyond that, I started noticing other strange things with the computer as if the driver issue had corrupted the operating system. I had to rebuild my computer. The only way around this I found was to attach the printer through the print server on my NAS drive. Since the print server does not pass the name of the printer, Windows could not select. I got the "have disk' screen, and I managed to install the HP universal driver from the HP website. This works most of the time.

    I ended up getting a new Lexmark Printer E460dn. Lexmark clearly said on their website to use the Lexmark 64 bit driver. However, once again Windows took over and loaded its own driver when I plugged in the USB connector. I tried attaching the printer as direct IP attached on the network. When I went into Add Printers, Network Printer, Windows found the Lexmark E460dn, and again took control and loaded its own driver before I could do anything about it. Lexmark tech support showed me how to trick the system by designating the network printer as a local printer, creating a new IP port with the local IP address of the printer, and then telling Windows not to identify the printer. This gives me the "have disk" option, and let me install the Lexmark driver.

    I seem to have had some issues with other USB devices, including an Adesso AKB-320UB keyboard that uses standard Windows drivers. Again, I was given no control over the process. When I let Windows go to Windows Update and select a driver, I had some strange things happen. I discovered one can go to Devices and Printers, right click the computer, and set Windows to never check Windows Update for drivers. (It still takes over and loads drivers if found locally, but it will not go online to Windows Update to further search.) This time Windows found some generic drivers locally, and the keyboard worked OK using them. However, this caused a problem for my Canon MP780. Canon has a procedure where one installs drivers it supplies before connecting the printer, and during the install process you plug in the printer and it completes. This time it did not complete correctly because it said it could not find a driver for the Canon MP780. I guess Canon must install some drivers for scanning and fax, and let Windows install the basic printer driver, and then link them somehow. I managed to complete this install my running Windows Update, and it recognized a need for an MP780 driver and installed it.

    The bottom line is that it seems that one cannot trust the drivers provided by Windows Update. However, Windows provides little or no control over selection of drivers. Thus, you are left with whatever Windows decides. And the "install new driver" does not always seem to work. One cannot even get better drivers from vendors in this situation unless they know how to program around the issue as Canon apparently does with its "load our drivers and plug in the printer during this process". Am I missing something? Does anyone have any suggestions? Thanks.

  2. #2
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    The correct procedure for installing a USB device is to begin the software installation without the device attached. At some point you should be instructed to attache the device. That way you are installing the software you choose.

    Joe
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  3. #3
    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    To answer a part of your question, since you have 64 bit OS, you need 64 Bit drivers for all attached hardware. This is probably the driver you found. When I wish to update drivers I download the new driver, then start the execute process by clicking on the driver .exe file. The driver is then loaded to the appropriate area and is set as the default driver. HP does not list a Win 7 driver, just a Vista driver, but often Vista drivers work for Win 7. I'm not sure if this is the way you try to update your drivers, but this method seems to work for me. I generally do not use the update driver option in Device Manager. I do not try to get Win 7 to let me install the driver, I just click on the .exe file and go that route.
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  4. #4
    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    This might make things easier when installing your own device drivers, although I have not previously tried this...
    [It would seem to indicate a choice between Windows 7 finding the device drivers for you, vs you doing this on your own].
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  5. #5
    Star Lounger
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    Thanks for all the input. Clint, I actually used the option you suggest. All this does is allow or disallow Windows to go online to check Windows Update for a driver. It does not prevent Windows from trying to load a driver it already has locally. Also, if Windows cannot find a driver locally, it aborts the driver load. It does not allow you to specify a driver. Ted, you are exactly right. I have worked hard to make sure I find 64 bit drivers. For Ted and Joe, this may be partly a problem of the hardware vendors. For my HP4100 printer, for example, HP no longer supports it. So there is no Windows 7 driver. (I did not try any Vista drivers.) HP does provide a universal driver that is supposed to work. However, when I downloaded and installed that driver, it did not ask me to plug in the printer as part of the process. When I plugged in the printer right after, Windows ignored the driver I had just installed and installed a new one it selected. So Windows did not recognize there was already a driver loaded for the device. Windows seems to only be able to link a USB device with a driver when the driver is loaded the first time Windows discovers the new USB device, and that is when Windows takes control.

    I actually ended up purchasing a new Lexmark E460dn printer to partly get around the lack of HP support. Lexmark supplies a specific Windows 7 x64 driver, which I checked before purchasing it. However, when you load this driver and then plug in the printer, Windows ignores that driver and installs its own. Lexmark support showed me a way to get around this when the printer is network attached. You cannot use the Windows command to install a network printer and let Windows find the printer, or Windows again puts its own drivers without giving you any choice. However, if you tell Windows you are installing a local printer, then specify a new TCP/IP port for the printer using the specific IP address, then Windows lets you select to not automatically search for a driver and instead point to your disk (or file) for the driver. This is how I successfully installed the Lexmark printer.

    I guess some hardware vendors know how to specially code their drivers to first install their driver and then have you plug in the device so their install software can link the USB port with the just installed driver, as Joe suggested. That is how I installed my Canon inkjet printer. Similarly, for my Logitech mouse Logitech has a Setpoint program that I installed before connecting the mouse. In this case, however, Windows seemed to install some kind of driver, so there may be a low level Windows driver that links with the Logitech installed software. However, other vendors provide drivers but not ones that take over the process in this manner. I just think it should not be this difficult.

    Thanks again for all the advice.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Lang View Post
    For Ted and Joe, this may be partly a problem of the hardware vendors. For my HP4100 printer, for example, HP no longer supports it. So there is no Windows 7 driver. (I did not try any Vista drivers.) HP does provide a universal driver that is supposed to work. However, when I downloaded and installed that driver, it did not ask me to plug in the printer as part of the process. When I plugged in the printer right after, Windows ignored the driver I had just installed and installed a new one it selected. So Windows did not recognize there was already a driver loaded for the device. Windows seems to only be able to link a USB device with a driver when the driver is loaded the first time Windows discovers the new USB device, and that is when Windows takes control.
    The reason that Windows did not recognize the driver/device relationship is most likely an HP problem in identifying internally in the software what printers are actually supported and what the identifier for your printer is. Drivers are the single biggest problem in a Windows environment. Microsoft has made some stupid design decisions at various times on device installation. On the other hand OEMs have produced really bad drivers and installation routines that have not followed Microsoft's best practices. Plenty of blame to go around although much better with Windows 7 than other OSes in the past.

    Joe
    Joe

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