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September 22, 2023

Talking Tech with Andrew Parlette: Windows Support for 3rd Party Printer Drivers

In early September, Microsoft announced an “End of Servicing Plan” for printer drivers from third parties through Windows Update. Windows drivers | Microsoft Learn  


There are a few things to note about the updated policy from Microsoft: 

  1. Timeline – This is currently an announcement with a phase-in between 2025 and 2027. The first step in 2025 will limit any new driver submissions to Windows Update, but existing drivers will be discoverable in the same way and freely updated by the manufacturer. Later, in 2026, Microsoft will prioritize their own IPP “class” driver causing potentially different Windows Updates results than today. Finally, planned in 2027 is limiting any updates to manufacturer drivers outside of security-related fixes.
  2. Scope – This change is targeted entirely at delivery through Windows Updates. While this does affect all versions of Windows, it’s also the case that all versions of Windows will still allow vendor-supplied print drivers to be installed through standard installation packages.
  3. Impact – Existing drivers, including v3 and v4 printer drivers, will continue to work in Windows. The change is specifically related to the distribution of those drivers through Windows Update. This will widely affect users on desktop systems, while administrators can still choose to utilize 3rd party printer drivers.
  4. Latest Standards – The IPP Class drivers were introduced in Windows 10 21H2 as a Microsoft-built driver that holds to Mopria compliancy and experience customization.
  5. Tricerat ScrewDrivers® – ScrewDrivers’ custom-built driver and all managed drivers operate outside of Windows Update and are therefore unaffected by this change.


For general computing scenarios, this move is seen as a proactive step in advancing system technology to newer standards and closing security, compatibility, and performance issues that were found in older driver standards. For environments with primarily local workstation computing and standard print models, these changes will have a negligible effect on the end user if not a positive one that leverages drivers compliant with the latest standards. The industry has moved towards IPP Class drivers as defined by the Mopria Alliance, and limited use of older drivers helps increase adoption of those standards.

However, in any enterprise environment, the number of devices that are supported, often with a range of devices and features beyond the standard printer, requires support of more than the IPP class drivers currently offer. Additionally, application delivery methods that include VDI, cloud desktops, and other management systems, require administrators the flexibility to deploy the best driver for the various use cases their users need.

Windows Support for 3rd Party Printer Drivers Blog - GraphicsRegarding Tricerat ScrewDrivers, the virtual driver is installed as part of our session agent and is purpose-built to be high-performing and adaptable to computing platforms such as virtual desktops and remote application delivery. A print job from an application will continue to print to the ScrewDrivers virtual driver or any driver managed by ScrewDrivers Enterprise, freeing the administrator to use the best driver for the device and use case on the print server or local desktop. For all endpoints managed by ScrewDrivers, there is no access to Windows Update for drivers and therefore no direct impact.

Considering the Future of Print Driver Management

Modern print management solutions, such as Tricerat ScrewDrivers, have a core focus on driver management throughout the enterprise. Administrators manage a sole source for the driver, be it on a print server or within the driver database, and the management platform handles configuration of the print queue with the right driver in the user session or at the endpoint.

Windows Support for 3rd Party Printer Drivers Blog - Graphics (1)More specifically, a print solution that uses a virtual print driver is an important part of a modern print management solution. A virtual print driver solves many of the core issues that are being addressed here, by offering a secure, dynamic, and scalable solution without the need for drivers to be pre-loaded or distributed around the network. Using a virtual driver in a non-persistent desktop environment brings management, efficiency, and performance benefits while still granting administrators choices in the drivers that are used at the print server or final rendering of the print job.


This announcement by Microsoft isn’t one that requires immediate change, but it is one that has to be considered with purpose since many enterprises rely on printing as a mission-critical process, especially for unique and complex use cases. Administrators are responsible for addressing the possible confusion generated by this change while still embracing the move to higher security standards. Considering the benefits of modern print management to simplify those user needs now will also provide a smooth transition through 3rd party driver changes in Windows Update.

Other References

Microsoft will block 3rd-party printer drivers in Windows Update

Microsoft removing third-party printer drivers from Windows Update benefits everyone

Microsoft will stop accepting new third-party print drivers in Windows

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