In order to use a printer, like any device, in Windows, a printer driver is required. With Windows 10, Microsoft introduced a new concept for printer support using an integrated driver. This is called the Microsoft IPP Class driver, and it supports Mopria-compliant printers over a network (ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth) or USB connection.
The idea is that printer manufacturers will no longer need to create, maintain, and provide their own printer drivers. Knowing Microsoft, there is always the possibility that an aspect of control on their end also plays a role.
All device experience customizations would need to be done through a print support app, which printer manufacturers should then develop instead of a driver. This is already the recommended way for Windows 11.
The motivation for this is stated as improved reliability and performance, which is never a bad thing, especially in the context of Microsoft Windows.
As a result of this change, or plan of changes, Microsoft will phase out their servicing of legacy Windows printer drivers (version 3 and version 4). Due to the nature of the impact, the changes will take place over a period of several years. Following the announcement this year, from 2025 onwards, no new printer drivers will be published to Windows Update. In 20260, printer driver update recommendations will start favoring the IPP driver, and in 2027 third-party printer driver updates will no longer be allowed.
Even though printer manufacturers can submit drivers for certification through the Windows Hardware Compatibility Program, from 2025 onwards the drivers will not be available through Windows Update. In addition, the Mopria certification will be required. A direct benefit is that all printers will be supported on various devices.
One of the main questions resulting from this is whether existing or even new third-party printer drivers will still be allowed. And according to Microsoft, they will be. They must have realized that this is critical, as many people make use of printers for a long time.
Even if there is no direct printer support for a specific printer on a new Windows version, a virtual machine with an older version of Windows can offer a solution. But that is really a last resort since it is much simpler to use a (older) printer driver directly.
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