Printers and Windows XP Professional x64 Edition.
There have been a lot of questions on the Newsgroup about what printers are supported in x64. And while there is no comprehensive list all in one place, HP deserves kudos for transparency across their entire printer line. Check HP Printer Support for XP Professional x64 Edition for a complete list of where they are with printer support for x64.
Beyond what’s officially supported, however, there are a whole range of printers that work quite adequately in x64 Edition, even though there aren’t any official drivers yet. They may not include all the functionality of specifically engineered printer drivers, but they will be able to perform basic printing functions. The first thing to understand is that there are two basic printer control languages — “Printer Control Language” (PCL) and Postscript. PCL has been the core of the HP line since the earliest days of Laser Jets Basic printing functionality with PCL will support virtually all HP laser printers. If your specific model isn’t there, just choose the closest model that is supported
Postscript is more than just a printer language, and has been primarily used by Apple and high end graphics and design users because of it’s wealth of very high quality fonts, and platform independent support. This platform independence continues into the x64 world, with excellent drivers for Postscript printers built into the OS. The specific driver for your model printer may not be there, limiting your choice of controlling which paper tray is used, and possibly which fonts are available, but if your printer supports Postscript, you’ll be able to print.
On connectivity — I strongly believe that TCP/IP is the way to go for printer connectivity. If you are buying a printer, make sure it has a network card in it. If you already have a printer, take a look at one of the many TCP/IP network print server appliances available today, including wireless ones. If you use TCP/IP to connect to your printer, you again gain platform independence.
Finally, in my next post I’ll cover how to add x64 support to your existing 32–bit print server (well, if it’s running Server 2003, at least.)
Microsoft MVP for Server, Security and Tablet PCs
Windows Expert Zone Columnist and author of >25 books on computers, operating systems and enterprise environments