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How to Successfully Connect a Printer to a Windows Vista Laptop Over a Home Network to a Windows XP Desktop

By Edited Jun 1, 2014 0 0

This situation can hardly be called unusual:
- a new laptop is purchased which comes with Windows Vista
- there is already a Windows XP desktop in the house
- the Windows XP machine has a local printer that works correctly
- a wireless router in the house provides network and Internet access top the laptop
- the laptop can't use the printer

<Skip the talk. Just show me the FACTS!>
Microsoft released the first version of Windows in 1985. It was designed to make things easier. Over time, the various Windows product versions have certainly accomplished that goal. Many people don't remember, or were too young to know, that before Windows, printing, networking and device installation was very difficult. Networking was virtually unknown in the home due to the complexity and the cost of the computers and necessary components. Printers were difficult to implement. Each installed program had to support the desired printer with customized code. The application needed to be configured to work with the printer either by adding a reference in a program maintenance area or by adding specialized coding to the internal working area of the application. If the application didn't support your printer, you had to get a new version of the application, get a new printer or hope that the printer could be configured to act as some different model of printer. When one application was correctly configured, you had to go to the next application and start the process again. If you replaced the printer with a different model, you needed to re-configure every application to use the new printer. It was a nightmare for system administrators and home computer users. Microsoft Windows was developed to ease the printer interface problems. It seemed to be too good to be true

While early versions of Windows did improve printer handling, they had problems with other functions. In many ways, the available computer hardware was not powerful enough to handle the system demands of Windows. In over 25 years of computer development, and improvements to the Windows products, the situation had evolved to the point where modern versions of Windows were designed to make complicated operations as easy as possible. "Plug and Play" became a reality. After 1995, you just needed to plug in a new printer and Windows would take care of the installation and basic configuration. If only it stayed that easy.

With the cost of computing technology falling so dramatically since 1985, many people today find themselves able to purchase additional computers. Their original computers are still useful so many households now have more than one computer. In fact, many households have at least one computer for each family member. Inexpensive and effective networking equipment allows each machine to use the Internet. Sharing files between computers in the house is fairly easy to do. It seems totally normal for a newly purchased computer, like a laptop, to use the installed network to print to an installed printer. Alas, for many, this is not the case. A quick search of the Internet finds over 15 million pages dedicated to problems doing just that.

One method of connecting a laptop to a shared printer that works
A new laptop, running Windows Vista is purchased. The household already has a desktop computer running Windows XP. There is a printer connected to the Windows XP computer. A wireless network is installed and operating correctly. The new laptop is able to access the Internet, via the wireless network. The laptop is able to share files with the desktop computer. The first attempt to use the household printer is a failure. Many attempts are made to get the computer to work. Success is achieved with the following procedures:

The Secret Installation Process
- Remove the printer from the Windows XP desktop computer
- Re-install the printer on the Windows XP desktop computer, selecting device drivers for Windows Vista
- Name the printer "Lexmark 4200 Series"
- Verify successful operation from the Windows XP desktop computer
- Install a local printer on the Windows Vista laptop computer. (Not a network device.)
- Select the local port " XPDesktop Lexmark 4200 Series", (the desktop computer's name is XPDesktop)
- Verify successful operation

To be honest, the above sequence includes several separate recommendations. One suggestion found on the Internet said that the Windows XP machine had to use Windows Vista printer drivers. Another said to use the generic name of the printer, "Lexmark 4200 Series", rather than a personalized name. Still another said to set it up as a local printer, (with a network name), rather than a device connected to a computer on the network. In the end, one or more of the suggestions was correct. There is no desire to experiment to determine which particular suggestion was the actual one needed. It is enough to post the above as a reasonable procedure that will work.

Using the Internet, over 15 million pages were found that referred to Windows Vista network printing problems. A page provided by Microsoft was referenced. This page suggests that the most common method of using a printer in a home network is to have it installed as a stand-alone device. With all due respect to Microsoft, they are delusional. The most common method has to be that a printer is directly connected to one computer on the network. All other computers route print jobs through the printer hosting computer. To add a printer as a stand-alone device either requires a new printer or an adapter that will cost between $75 and $100. Most home users will simply continue to use their printer as currently installed on their desktop machine. Suffice to say, the rest of the Microsoft page was not any more helpful. A search of the Vista Help pages wasn't much better. Even the Microsoft Knowledge Base site was of no use. Lots of information, none of which pertained to the problem. This quote was found at http://help.lockergnome.com/vista/er-connect-er-windows-95-workstation--ftopict17937.html:
Create a local printer using a Local Port with the name
machineprintshare

Vista has deprecated making connections to non-RPC machines.

--
Alan Morris
Windows Printing Team


This is similar to the fix that was successful. Thanks must go to Alan but readers are left to ponder why the official Windows Vista Help pages are devoid of help for such an often encountered problem.

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