Windows 7 / Getting Started

Extending Point and Print Using Windows Update

By default, Windows Update is checked for a compatible driver whenever a user uses the Add Printer Wizard to install a new printer. When a compatible in-box driver cannot be found when Group Policy is used to deploy a printer to a client computer, Windows Update is again checked for a compatible driver. This failover behavior can be turned off in enterprise environments using the following Group Policy setting, which is new in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2:

Computer Configuration\Policies\Administrative Templates\Printers\Extend Point And Print Connection To Use Windows Update And Use An Alternate Connection If Needed

If you enable or do not configure this policy setting, the client computer will continue to search for compatible Point and Print drivers from Windows Update after it fails to find the compatible driver from the local driver store and the server driver cache. If the client computer is unable to find a compatible Point and Print driver, it will attempt to create a CSR mismatch connection using any available driver that supports the hardware. If you disable this policy setting, the client computer will search only the local driver store and server driver cache for compatible Point and Print drivers. If it is unable to find a compatible driver, then the Point and Print connection will fail.

If this policy is enabled, the new cross-platform Point and Print feature of Windows 7 is also enabled. Cross-platform Point and Print is designed to allow users who have computers running different processor architectures (x86 or x64, for example) to share their printers easily. Cross-platform Point and Print is designed to enable the following types of scenarios:

  • Joe brings home a new Windows 7 laptop for her son to use in school. She decides to upgrade her old Windows XP desktop to Windows 7 at the same time. She enrolls both PCs to her new HomeGroup during the setup process. She takes her existing inkjet printer and plugs it into her desktop system through the USB port. A short while later, she notices that her son's laptop already has a print queue for her office printer so he can print reports and other documents. She is unaware of the fact that the desktop is running an x86 version of Windows and the laptop is running an x64 version of Windows. This setup works because, in Windows 7, a user can add a printer locally to one system in a HomeGroup, and every other PC in the HomeGroup will search their local driver store, the print server, and Windows Update to find a suitable driver to make a print connection.
  • Joseph brings home a new Windows 7 laptop for working on personal projects. He already has a home network set up, including an older Windows XP file and print server in his office. After the new laptop is set up, Joseph uses the Add Printer Wizard to create a new connection to his office printer. The new laptop is running an x64 edition of the Windows 7 Business operating system. The printer is older, and there are no in-box drivers. Without any prompts or elevations, the system searches Windows Update to find a suitable driver, installs it, and creates the connection to the printer. Joseph then brings his laptop to work because he wants to use it for a presentation. After the meeting, he is asked to print out a copy of the slides for his manager. He navigates to the print server at work through Windows Explorer and opens the printer. After a few minutes, it is available to print, and he makes a copy of the slides even though Windows Update is blocked by his company's IT department.

In business environments, you might want to disable the automatic querying Windows Update for compatible printer drivers, especially when Group Policy is used to deploy printers as described in the next section. An example of a scenario in which you disable this Group Policy setting might be the following:

  • Joseph is setting up a small business computer environment for a startup. He is using Windows 7 for all of the systems. He writes some scripts to set up the servers, including a connection to a shared printer for printing out logs and other reports periodically. He also uses the Print Management console to set up the print server and push printer connections out to all of the clients. On the first client box he tests, he notices that it is going to Windows Update to find a print driver for the push printer connection. This is not the behavior he wants, so he investigates and finds out that a new feature in Windows 7 allows clients to search Windows Update for drivers when they aren't available on the server. He also discovers that Group Policy can be configured to disable this failover case. He disables this policy setting and adds the driver found on Windows Update to the print server so that the remaining clients can use standard Point and Print.
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In this tutorial:

  1. Managing Printing
  2. Enhancements to Printing in Windows 7
  3. Printing Enhancements Previously Introduced in Windows Vista
  4. Additional Printing Enhancements in Windows 7
  5. How Printing Works in Windows 7
  6. Understanding XPS
  7. Understanding the Windows Printing Subsystem
  8. Understanding Printer Driver Isolation
  9. Understanding the Print Management Console
  10. Enhancements to the Print Management Console in Windows 7
  11. The Print Management Console
  12. Adding and Removing Print Servers
  13. Configuring Default Security for Print Servers
  14. Adding Printers Using the Network Printer Installation Wizard
  15. Creating and Using Printer Filters
  16. Creating and Using Driver Filters
  17. Managing Printers Using Print Management
  18. Configuring Properties of Printers
  19. Publishing Printers in AD DS
  20. Managing Printer Drivers
  21. Configuring Printer Driver Isolation Mode
  22. Configuring Printer Driver Isolation Mode Using the Print Management Console
  23. Configuring Printer Driver Isolation Mode Using Group Policy
  24. Troubleshooting Driver Isolation
  25. Exporting and Importing Print Server Configurations
  26. Printer Export Files
  27. Performing Bulk Actions Using Print Management
  28. Client-Side Management of Printers
  29. Installing Printers Using the Add Printers Wizard
  30. Searching for Printers
  31. Installing Printers Using Point and Print
  32. Using Devices And Printers
  33. Using the Color Management CPL
  34. Managing Client-Side Printer Experience Using Group Policy
  35. Configuring the Add Printer Wizard
  36. Disable Client-Side Printer Rendering
  37. Configuring Package Point and Print Restrictions
  38. Extending Point and Print Using Windows Update
  39. Deploying Printers Using Group Policy
  40. Preparing to Deploy Printers
  41. Deploying a Printer Connection
  42. Limitations of Deploying Printers Using Group Policy
  43. Migrating Print Servers
  44. Migrate Print Servers Using Print Management
  45. Migrating Print Servers Using PrintBRM
  46. Monitoring and Troubleshooting Printers
  47. Configuring E-Mail Notifications
  48. Configuring Print Server Notifications
  49. Configuring Script Actions
  50. Configuring Detailed Event Logging