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Point and Print for Windows 2000

Updated: April 22, 2003

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2

This section describes the Point and Print feature, explains methods of installing printer drivers and shared printers for Point and Print, and discusses using Point and Print.

Using Printer Drivers and Point and Print

Point and Print refers to the capability of allowing a Windows user to create a connection to a remote printer without providing disks or other installation media. All necessary files and configuration information are automatically downloaded from the print server to the client.

Clients that use the same driver architecture as a print server do not require any additional drivers to be installed on the print server for full support. Other clients require that you install the appropriate driver on the print server so that updates can be downloaded automatically at connection time. For example, a Windows 2000 print server using a version 3 (user-mode) driver for a shared printer does not require any additional drivers to be installed to provide full Point and Print support for Windows 2000 and later clients, because those clients also support the version 3 drivers. However, to vend version 2 drivers for a Windows NT 4.0 client, a Windows 2000 print server requires the appropriate version 2 driver, which can be installed as an using the Additional Drivers option. Other platform architectures, such as Intel x86, Intel IA64 or Alpha, also require specific drivers to be installed. For more information about network printing, including point and Print driver installation, see the Windows Server Resource Kit.

Generally, there are four Point and Print methods commonly used by clients to connect to a shared network printer hosted on a Windows 2000 or later print server:

  • UNC path. From the Start menu, choose Run, type \\PrintServer\Printer, and then click OK.

  • Add Printer Wizard. Select Network printer in the wizard, and then specify the path to the shared printer.

  • Drag and Drop. Use Net View or the Run command from the Start menu to view shared printers on a remote print server; for example, \\PrintServer. Then drag the desired printer icon into the local workstation’s Printers & Faxes folder.

  • Double-click. Use Net View of the Run command as above to view shared printers, and then double-click the shared printer icon to install the printer.

Windows 2000 and later operating systems also support command line and scriptable interfaces for printer installation and configuration, such as PRNADMIN.DLL or any Microsoft Visual Basic® scripts that use the Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) print provider. For more information, see the Windows Server resource kits.

Point and Print from Windows 2000 Professional to Windows 2000 Server

Expected Driver Behavior

In a Point and Print installation, the printer properties and settings from the server are passed to the client machine. This configuration includes settings for installable options and certain job-processing features. Clients have a local cache of printing preferences, which determine how a job is printed. To perform remote administration on the server, in which the actual device settings or global printing preferences are modified, a user must be logged on with credentials that include administrative rights on the remote server. If the user has administrative rights on the server, the server’s printer object can be modified through the Advanced and Device Settings tabs. This functionality does not exist on down-level clients such as Windows 95 or Windows 98.

Point and Print from Windows NT 4.0 to Windows 2000 Server

Expected Driver Behavior


Figure 1. Additional Drivers

Setting up printer drivers on a Windows 2000 server for Point and Print support for Windows NT 4.0 is generally the same as for Windows Server 2003. However, there are a couple of specific differences.

As Figure 1 shows, the Additional Drivers dialog box contains three entries under the Intel environment for Windows 2000 drivers, Windows 2000 or XP, Windows 95, 98 and Me and Windows NT 4.0 or 2000. They differ as follows:

If Windows 2000 or XP is checked before any additional drivers are loaded, the server is currently running a user-mode driver written specifically for the Windows 2000 or Windows XP platform. That driver cannot be vended to a Windows NT 4.0 client for Point and Print functionality. Microsoft refers to these drivers as version 3 drivers.

If Windows NT 4.0 or 2000 is checked, the driver running on the server is a Windows NT 4.0 driver that is running under Windows 2000. Microsoft calls these drivers version 2 (or kernel-mode) drivers. In this case, no additional drivers are required to support Point and Print for Windows NT 4.0 clients along with Windows 2000 or XP client computers.

Server Running Version 3 Driver

When a version 3 printer driver written specifically for the Windows 2000, Windows XP or Windows Server 2003 platform is installed on a server, a Windows NT 4.0 (version 2) driver with the same model name must be installed in order to support Point and Print for Windows NT 4.0 clients. Changes in the internal data structures that were made to the version 3 Unidrv.dll file might cause a problem in sharing or preserving settings between the clients and the server. This problem can be manifested in two primary ways:

  • The Print Server might have new or advanced settings that are simply not visible from a client printer properties dialog box.

  • The client properties might not be correctly interpreted by the print server, causing them to be lost.

As a result, the Point and Print connection allows the client to print but might not allow modification of certain device settings or preferences if they do not match those on the server.

Incompatible data structures can cause certain printer settings—such as Print Text as Graphics or Print Optimization—to be lost between the Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 2000 machines. Additionally, settings such as paper tray assignments and media types might not be preserved between driver models.

Microsoft and Adobe Systems have developed the latest version of the PostScript driver through a joint development program. Adobe has compiled the latest version of the PostScript driver core for Windows NT 4.0 and later versions of Windows. As a result, the same PSCRIPT core code can be run by Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000, Windows XP, and the Windows Server 2003 family. By using common PostScript minidrivers (.PPD) files, a higher level of interoperability may be obtained. To increase compatibility, Microsoft recommends that PostScript drivers be considered in mixed environments that include Windows NT with Windows 2000 or the Windows Server 2003 family systems. Another benefit of this situation is that Windows 2000 and later systems run version 3 (user-mode) drivers; only the legacy Windows NT 4.0 machines run the version 2 (kernel-mode) printer drivers. Using PostScript version 5.0 and later is recommended.

Server Running Version 2 Driver

When a server has a version 2 driver (Windows NT 4.0) installed as its primary driver, no additional drivers need to be installed to support Point and Print on Windows 2000, Windows XP or Windows NT clients. Further, because the driver being vended to the clients is the same one used by the server, there are virtually no compatibility issues between the Windows Server 2003 server and Windows NT 4.0 clients. After the Version 2 driver is installed on the Windows Server 2003, and the installed printer is shared through the Sharing tab in the Printer Properties dialog box, Windows 2000 and Windows NT 4.0 clients can connect to the shared printer by either method described above.

On the Sharing Tab (accessed through the Additional Drivers button), all drivers listed as Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 2000 are version 2 drivers.

If driver incompatibility or mismatches cause problems and a PostScript solution is not available, Microsoft recommends using these drivers as a solution to support Point and Print between Windows 2000 (and later versions) and Windows NT.

If you are unsure about Point-and-Print compatibility among the different versions of Windows operating systems, contact the manufacturer of your print hardware and ask for drivers that work with a Windows Point-and-Print connection.

Point and Print from Other Windows Versions to Windows 2003

Expected Driver Behavior

The behavior for Point and Print from Windows Server 2003 to Windows 95, Windows 98 or Windows Millennium Edition differs from that of Windows NT and later versions. No configuration settings are vended from the server to the client. The client user must configure the driver to match the physical device after installation. Additionally, after a driver is downloaded initially, a client running Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows Millennium Edition does not receive driver updates from the print server. The same connection methods are available: drag and drop, the Add Printer Wizard, referencing the UNC path, or double-clicking the shared printer icon.

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