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Microsoft is killing third-party printer drivers in Windows 11

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Microsoft will no longer provide new drivers from printer manufacturers via Windows Update starting in 2025, the company has announced. Microsoft says doing so will make Windows 11 even more secure.

Up to now, printer manufacturers can have their drivers certified by Microsoft, and Microsoft then distributes them via Windows Update. Starting in 2025, however, Microsoft will no longer accept new drivers from manufacturers. The proprietary drivers, installers, and tools of the printer manufacturers haven’t been necessary since Windows 10 21H2’s release in 2021, because since then Windows has supported Mopria-compliant network and USB printers with the universal Microsoft IPP class driver (Mopria is an association of printer and scanner manufacturers to produce drivers for printers, multifunction, devices and scanners. Windows supports Mopria). There are also printer support apps in the Windows Store that offer additional possibilities.

By switching from the Win32 framework to the UWP software development framework, reliability and performance would increase. Printer manufacturers would no longer have to develop their software from scratch because their printers would be supported by all Windows versions and editions.

Above all, Microsoft wants to improve the security of Windows by using only a few central IPP drivers instead of many different proprietary printer drivers from individual device manufacturers. Security holes in proprietary printer drivers often go unnoticed for years and thus remain in Windows. This makes Windows as a whole more vulnerable to attacks.

Microsoft security expert Johnathan Norman writes on X (formerly Twitter): “We are making some big changes to Print in Windows. This is the first step towards a more secure and modern printing system.”

Norman puts it this way: “In the near future, Windows will default to a new print mode that disables third-party drivers for printing.”

Here’s what the timetable looks like

From 2025, Microsoft will no longer provide new proprietary printer drivers via Windows Update. However, Microsoft will continue to provide existing certified printer drivers via Windows Update after 2025. The printer manufacturers may also still update existing drivers.

From 2026 onwards, Microsoft will give preference to IPP drivers over proprietary drivers and from 2027 onwards, Microsoft will also no longer allow updates of existing proprietary drivers — with the exception of security updates. However, even after 2027, Windows will allow users to install printer drivers provided by manufacturers as standalone installation packages via their websites.

This article was translated from German to English and originally appeared on pcwelt.de.

Hans-Christian Dirscherl schreibt seit über 20 Jahren zu fast allen IT-Themen. Sein Fokus liegt auf der Koordination und Produktion von Nachrichten mit hohem Nutzwert sowie auf ausführlichen Tests und Ratgebern für die Bereiche Smart Home, Smart Garden und Automotive.

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