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Almost every time I've had to change the print processor for a printer, it's because it's set to something other than WINPRINT/RAW. Granted, fax software sometimes makes use of other print processors, but most of the time it seems as though the WINPRINT/RAW processor is the best way to go. Can anyone shed some light on the history and need for different print processors? For instance, when different processors are needed and what types of symptoms can be seen if the wrong processor is being used?

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up vote 10 down vote accepted

Way back at the beginning of Windows, Windows printing was not considered reliable. The standard to which it was being compared was NetWare (this was the 1990's after all), which at the time had a good reputation for reliability. Because of this printer manufacturers created their own Print Processors under the impression that:

  • They could do it better than Microsoft
  • By owning more of the print-stack they were better able to control the print environment and produce more repeatable results
  • Certain windows-isms could come into play for remote printers (such as those hosted on a central print-server) and local printers, where the same job can render differently based on local/remote status
  • They could provide advanced print features, such as toner-out notifications, internal hardware failure notices, and the like.

HP was prominent in this, and in fact still ships a print-processor with its drivers. Though in recent years their 'enterprise' product line has seen this less often, where their consumer product line tends to rely on it more. This has the side-effect (likely intentional) that their consumer product is a poor team player on centralized print-servers.

The Windows print-processor has gotten a lot better over the years. Even so, there are still some instances where a custom processor is needed.

At my old job at a large University, where we had something like 1700 computer-lab seats and printed about 2 million pages an academic quarter, we needed a custom processor for our print-auditing solution. As I understand it, it just acted as a shim between the spooler and the actual RAW provider that allowed for advanced features like tracking quotas and handling charge-back.

The above are for third party print providers that commonly come along with the driver install. Windows has its own providers, and I've rarely seen things set to anything other than "RAW".

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This blog post will give you and lead you to good background info.

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Interesting. I suppose if people begin using StackExchange as a filtering proxy to other sites, it would lower the viability of StackExchange as a site with unique answers; arguably lowering it's value. References that lead to an answer, specifically that from the vendor's own engineers, are still valuable. I ask, what if I were to have linked to a response on another StackExchange thread? Would this also be acceptable under this non-enforceable etiquette? I think that's a little "ethnocentric," no? – mbrownnyc Aug 24 '11 at 15:38
I was trying encourage you to add some context to your answer. For discussion on the particulars of SE opinion, I must defer to the various Meta sites as more appropriate. – jscott Aug 24 '11 at 15:43
Thanks. I'll check them out when I have time to dedicate. – mbrownnyc Aug 24 '11 at 15:44
The preferred etiquette is to actually give an answer. You should of course include the link and indicate what parts of your answer is quoted from the other source(s) - it's the "post a bare link as an answer" that's frowned upon. – mfinni Aug 24 '11 at 15:45

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