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Why is Printing in Windows such a Pain in the Ass?

Printing seem like a pretty basic process. You have a document you send it to a printer spooler and it prints. A simple queue and a file streaming interface, right?

Well, for me printing always seems to be an excercise in meditated toe nail removal. The first issue is that Windows refuses to recognize printers the same way twice. If I disconnect the USB cable from to the printer from the computer and I - god forbid -decide to re-connect it into another USB receptacle things go pretty wacky. Typically what happens is that Windows will install another printer driver (Copy 1... Copy 555) and usually configure it wrong. So the printer uses a USB connection but the installation decides to install a file based provider... Ok, I can manually swap that to the USB port. But... well there are multiple ports now and now it's down to trying to determine which freaking port the printer actually responds to. I usually end up sending 10 test pages to the printer - before I get one that actually spits out at the printer.

I can sort of understand the above problem - and it might actually be the printer driver that's not doing the right thing when it reinstalls itself but WTF does Windows have to reinstall the printer each time when it's already there in the first place? The same thing happens if you disconnect your mouse and switch USB ports - instant reinstall and often the reinstall doesn't work right so I end up shuffling ports until I find the 'right one'...

What's worse though about printing is the lameness of the print spooler in Windows. Whenever I manage to somehow hang a print job - because it ran out of paper or maybe because I needed to kill the printer or because I can't seem to find the right port above  - invariably the Print Spooler will end up getting hung up. There'll be a list of print jobs with one that says -Error at the top of the queue. Cancel looks like it'd do the job, but in this case (or any other that I can remember) cancel doesn't do anything on an errored out print job. I can't delete remove or Cancel All - none of it has any effect.

The only way I can fix this is by restarting the Print Spooler Service which of course is a real intuitive operation having to go to Services find Print Spooler and Restart the service . Seriously why can't that option be available somewhere on the print dialog menu because it sure is needed an awful lot.

Actually in some cases it looks like canceling does work - once I do have the right printer selected. But whilst trying to find the right printer (ie. uninstalling all printers, trying (unsuccessfully to remove all but one USB printer port), disconnecting then reconnecting the printer) eventually after a few tries I always get this to work. But this whole back and forth tends to eat up 10-15 minutes.

It's possible it's my printer driver - the printer is fairly old and it's not a Vista specific driver, but once hooked up everything works fine - printing and print status detection etc. However, I don't think so - I've had the same sort of problems with various printers on just about any version of Windows I can remember. Frustrating as hell...

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# re: Why is Printing in Windows such a Pain in the Ass?
by Rasmus Kromann-Larsen October 15, 2007 @ 4:57am
Hey Rick,

I've been noting the same thing (connecting a printer to various USB ports and getting 27 copies), however I've found that if you go to the properties of the printer and navigate to the "Ports" tab, you can actually select multiple ports for one printer - which in turn means that you can make one printer represent a selection of usb ports.. So far it's worked for me and doesn't reinstall the printer :-)

- Rasmus.
# re: Why is Printing in Windows such a Pain in the Ass?
by Rik Hemsley October 15, 2007 @ 7:44am
Printers with Ethernet connections. Wonderful things!
# re: Why is Printing in Windows such a Pain in the Ass?
by Rick Strahl October 15, 2007 @ 12:20pm
@Rasmus - interesting that doesn't work for me. When I select a port it automatically unchecks the other ports. Which more or less makes sense.

@Rik - another interesting thought. My printer at my other office has an Ethernet Connection but I've never actually tried that out. But wouldn't you still have similar issues with configuration in that scenario? I need to play around with this.
# re: Why is Printing in Windows such a Pain in the Ass?
by Rasmus Kromann-Larsen October 15, 2007 @ 1:07pm

Well I havn't tried it with just any random ports, but when you get the copies, they create extra ports, maybe it works for a group of ports - like the usb ones...

Another thing might be that I'm still using XP, but figured it probably hadn't changed that part.. But I suppose they probably did :-)
# re: Why is Printing in Windows such a Pain in the Ass?
by David Douglass October 15, 2007 @ 5:12pm
As we all know, Microsoft started at the bottom (micro computers) and has fighting ever since to play with the big boys. And they've made a lot of progress in a lot of areas. But printing on Microsoft's platform has remained stuck in the Windows 95/Windows NT4 era. IBM takes printing far more seriously and their platforms handle much larger volumes and give the operations staff far more control. Microsoft should pay attention to this. Printing isn't going away and considering what IBM charges, there's market share to be won and money to be made.
# re: Why is Printing in Windows such a Pain in the Ass?
by Ryan J. December 08, 2007 @ 3:32pm
I'm tired of print jobs hanging and not deleting as instructed. Why can't windows make a print service that actually works like it is supposed to? I've had this problem for years. I (once again) am fed up and "googling" the problem but finding no solution. How is it possible that there has not been a fix for this bullshit? Happens over and over again...usually this time it says "shockwave flash object", I cancel and delete the job, but it is stuck and I have to reboot or manually restart the spoolservice. F U windows.
# re: Why is Printing in Windows such a Pain in the Ass?
by Hugh L December 30, 2007 @ 1:43pm
Sorry to say it - but I'm glad I now know that I'm not alone in this problem. After fussing with this for the past two years, I thought I'd have it beat when I got a new Kodak printer and installed it - only to have my very first print job hang and refuse to delete. I know how to clear it by shutting down and re-starting the spooler - but like you say - that's not a very elegant way to do this. I'm amazed that MS hasn't responded with a fix. I spent an hour looking for a hint on their knowledge base but found nothing useful until went to the broad web search. They are aware of the problem - aren't they??
# re: Why is Printing in Windows such a Pain in the Ass?
by Wake January 03, 2013 @ 2:11pm
I've seen this same issue for years with Windows XP and newer, up to Win 7. It happens sometimes when printers are unplugged and plugged into different ports, same ports, not unplugged at all just computer rebooted or turned off and on. Seems like it was more of an issue with XP, don't see it as much with Win 7, but it does still happen occasionally.

During these years of experiencing this I have gone online several times to try to find a fix... it amazes me there still doesn't seem to be one. This post started in 2007 I see... 2013 and stilll no fix??? No wonder MS is losing market share so fast.

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