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Point and Print Setup for Windows 95 Printers

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Windows Tips & Secrets, a publication by PLATINUM Technology, Inc., ©1998

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"Have Disk?" Next to "Got Milk?", it may be the most overused phrase in recent memory. For the network administrator, it means a phone call and probably a walk. It's a slim possibility that end-users will be able to install a printer themselves without asking for help or making a mistake selecting the correct driver. Even if they do make the correct choice, the odds are you'll get a phone call asking to provide the printer driver. Administrators dread the day they install a new printer and have to spend an entire day fielding these kinds of calls. Would you prefer to automate the process so that printers install themselves? We'll show you how to make it easy as Point and Print.

So, instead of opening up My Computer, Printers, Add Printer, and trying to figure out the exact model name of the printer cryptically titled "Mail_Room_Printer", an end-user could open up Network Neighborhood, find the printer, and drag their document into it. The drivers update automatically , behind-the-scenes, and the document prints with minimal user input. They give the printer a name, capture a port, and print a test page.

In Windows 95, there are two ways to install a Point and Print enabled printer:

Drag and drop a document icon to the network printer's icon.

Or

Right-click the network printer icon. Select Install.

This far underutilized feature of Windows 95 works best between computers running Windows 95; but it can work almost as easily for printers connected to NT 4.0, or NetWare computers. Point and Print must be enabled in order to work, and all Windows 95 machines are enabled by default. When you connect to a Windows 95 computer and attempt to use the printer, if you do not have that printer installed, your computer copies the drivers from the other computer via the built-in PRINTER$ share. The VREDIR and VSERVER services negotiate this hidden share.

Windows NT works differently. Because it does not share the same drivers, when Windows 95 attempts to install the printer, it tries to locate the drivers in the original installation folder. This could mean inserting a disk, but the process is still faster. Of course, if you installed your Windows 95 machines from a network installation, the process is seamless. You might be prompted to enter the model name of the printer, if the printer drivers for Windows NT and 95 use different names for the same driver.

You can add Point and Print functions to NetWare servers. Windows 95 writes file location information into the NetWare bindery. This points the Windows 95 clients to the location of the printer drivers.

  1. Log into the NetWare server with Supervisory rights.

  2. Open Network Neighborhood and locate the NetWare print queue.

  3. Right-click the NetWare print queue. Select Point and Print Setup.

  4. Use Set Driver Path to enter the UNC path to the drivers.

  5. Use Set Printer Model to define the printer model. Follow the dialogue boxes to select the correct driver.

  6. Verify that everyone has Read and File Scan rights to the directory.

Make certain that you provide the path information first, even though the option for printer model comes first on the menu. We've noticed that if you reverse the order and select the printer model first, Windows 95 may not copy the drivers to the correct folder.

One feature we would like to see added in the future, is an automatic upgrade. Right now, if you update the driver on the print server, the client computer still uses the local driver. To upgrade the client, you delete the printer and use Point and Print to install the printer again. However, with the overall convenience of point and print, it's a wonder more people don't use it.

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