Windows 7 and your printer
Windows 7 is the latest operating system from Microsoft; it was released on 22nd October 2009. Windows 7 is designed to be a compromise between the user friendly interfaces of Windows XP with the security features of Windows Vista. As with any new operating system, there will be questions about which printers or other hardware/accessories will work. You will have a much better chance of moving your printer to Windows 7 without any serious problems, than you would have done transferring from XP to Vista. Microsoft state that most drivers should work problem free, but all of the big name printer brands are producing upgrades for their range of printers.
It is important to understand that printers can have different levels of support in Windows 7. For a single function printer, the first and most minimal level is the basic ability to print. Beyond printing, a Windows 7 driver may or may not support such features as duplexing (print on both sides of the paper) or multiple paper trays.
For an all in one printer (also know as multi-function) support may or may not cover other functions besides printing. HP says that for it’s all in one printer models, the drivers included on the Windows 7 disc and on the Windows Update site will allow printing and scanning, but the scan support for network printers is limited to scanning over a USB connection. Also missing from the Windows 7 disc and Windows updates are things like fax drivers for those HP all in one printers that include a fax capability.
Brother are offering driver updates for many of their newer printer models, and are promising eventual compatible drivers for all their current models, implying that Brother users will be able to integrate their new operating systems very easily! Unless they use a model that is not classed as ‘current’. The American version of the Brother website released a ‘schedule of driver updates’, they will be releasing a UK version very soon.
Canon has classed themselves as the ‘proud partner’ with Windows 7. Many of Canon’s latest printers are already compatible with Windows 7. In addition, they have processed a long list of their existing products (including cameras) that are already compatible with Windows 7. For older printer models, the drivers are available on Canons website.
Dell is primarily a computer company, so they have been understandably preparing for the coming of Windows 7 on their PC’s. It appears that they have been focusing more on their PC’s and hardware and have been leaving their printers in the cold. Dell lacks formal documentation like Canon or Brother, but you can visit their drivers and downloads page to find updates if needed.
Just like Canon, Epson are also proud partners in the launch of Windows 7. Since the release of the new operating system they have been actively promoting Windows 7 all over the world. For their existing printer models they have got a simple and easy to use drop down menu page with a list of all their products that will have compatible drivers. For those of us who get easily confused when it comes to downloads and drivers they also have a well written FAQ page to help guide you through the change.
Very similar to Dell, HP is mainly a computer company which branched out into the printer market some time ago. They were the market leaders in PCs at one point. Unlike Dell, HP meets its users head on with their Windows 7 pages and documentation. Their website offers a software and driver search on the first page as well as FAQs and support forums. They also have a handy page which easily lets you check each individual printer’s compatibility.
Kodak is falling behind with regards to it’s compatibility for Windows 7. Their two latest printers the 5250 and 3250 do not seem to be Windows 7 compatible. Kodak seems to be more interested in lowering the cost of ink, then in compatibility at this point.
Lexmark is another company which makes compatibility information easy to find. On the front page of their website there is a link to ‘Windows 7 compatibility’ under the drivers and downloads heading. They also have a page where users can search for the Windows 7 driver for a particular product.
Samsung do offer some readily available drivers, but they don’t have any blanket support page for any problems with Windows 7. They only have a more general support page for all Samsung printer enquires.
Oki are a ‘Gold certified Partner’ of Microsoft, which means that all of their products will be compatible with the new Windows 7. There is a reasonable set of dropdown menus on their website that can be used to find out if a specific printer has a Windows 7 compatible driver.
Xerox have followed the trend of dropdown menus for finding if your printer has a suitable Windows 7 driver, for the average home user who needs to check a single printer this is adequate, for business users who need to check multiple printers, Xerox have also made a list too!