Microsoft is sounding the death knell for third-party printer drivers, saying it will no longer allow them in Windows by 2027.
Printing is one of the most problematic issues for operating systems, with stability, compatibility, and reliability issues often plaguing users, with much of the trouble coming from third-party drivers. Microsoft wants to eliminate that pain point, saying it will eliminate them from Windows by 2027, with security-related fixes being the only exception.
Microsoft developer Jonathan Norman took to Mastodon to tout the benefits:
I’ve been working on this for a bit. In the near future Windows will default to a new print mode that disable 3rd party drivers for Printing. That new system will have quite a few big security improvements which we plan to detail in a future blog post.
Moving forward, Windows will Mopria-compliant printer drivers, according to a company blog post:
With the release of Windows 10 21H2, Windows offers inbox support for Mopria compliant printer devices over network and USB interfaces via the Microsoft IPP Class Driver. This removes the need for print device manufacturers to provide their own installers, drivers, utilities, and so on. Device experience customization is now available via the Print Support Apps that are distributed and automatically installed via the Windows Store. This framework improves reliability and performance by moving customization from the Win32 framework to the UWP software development framework. Finally, print device manufacturers no longer have to rebuild their software since this solution is supported across all Windows versions and editions.
With these advancements in the Windows print platform, we are announcing the end of servicing of the legacy v3 and v4 Windows printer drivers. As this is an impactful change, end of servicing will be staged over multiple years. See the following Timeline and FAQ sections for guidance on the end of servicing roadmap.
Eliminating third-party printer drivers will undoubtedly present short-term issues, but the long-term benefits should make the transition worth it.