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HP printer drivers: software engineering gone wrong

I’ve worked with HP Printers throughout my entire career. Lets face it, they’re still the gold standard in business laser printing. So when the time came to refresh all HP printers at a clients headquarter site, I found that HP had made some changes to their popular 2000, 3000, and 4000 lines of business laser printers. Unfortunately these changes didn’t make the printers better, they made them unnecessarily complex and difficult to deploy.

First and foremost no more Parallel ports! Who needs backwards compatibility? I do. Consulting for government institutions and non-profits has taught me that many legacy applications don’t support printing to USB or networked printers. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to have a USB port included on every model (although you’ve got to supply your own USB cable), but USB drivers don’t come close to the stability & reliability of the old HP parallel port print drivers.

Next is that godawful “Printing Software” CD they include. If used as instructed, this CD will unnecessarily add a minimum of 10-15 minutes to your installation time and tons of bloatware to your system. To add insult to injury, the install crashed on several of my VISTA test systems halfway through the installation of the driver files. Even launching the driver in XP SP2 Compatibility mode didn’t work properly.

Installing a USB Printer from within Windows XP or VISTA is not exactly rocket science and it doesn’t take more steps than that “idiot proof” HP Printing Software which eventually ends up crashing during the “optimizing your system” step!? I’ve installed HP printers that work perfectly well by using the Windows Add Printer wizard in less than 2 minutes and I didn’t have to reboot my system because of 12 bloatware programs.

Making the installation process easier for gramps is fine and dandy but if you can’t get it right, maybe you should quit while you’re ahead and just include an insert a cd with drivers and good step-by-step Windows installation instructions instead of a cd with buggy bloatware installation programs. Just a thought.

July 1, 2008

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2 comments found

Comments for: HP printer drivers: software engineering gone wrong

  1. Neil McNaughton

    I am sitting while the new HP software for an HP Photosmart inkjet uninstalls itself – this has taked the best part of half an hour. Already spent 2 hours installing it yesterday (it worked) now it doesn’t. The complexity of it all beggars belief. Which part of “plug and play” don’t you understand HP?

    1. Post author: 
      David Vielmetter

      Yea, I don’t understand it. The strangest thing of all is that they seem to be trying to make it easier to install the printer with all that buggy installation bloatware. Maybe it’s job security for the software engineers at HP…but if that’s the case I’m never hiring a programmer who’s got HP driver installation experience.

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