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Windows Server 2008 Print Management

Windows Server 2008 includes a new print management architecture which provides a better print-server platform with improved performance. The new print management architecture is compatible with existing print drivers and applications and also enables them to use features which are found only in the newer XPSDrv printer drivers, which have a more efficient print queue operation.

As well as the TS Easy Print capability, Windows Server 2008 integrates XPS (XML Paper Specification) to provide efficient and high-quality document delivery to the whole print subsystem. The XPS format is based on fixed-layout technology and, alongside OPC (Open Packaging Conventions), defines a new format and specification built on existing industry standards such as XML and ZIP.

Installing Windows Server 2008 Print Management Components

As with all the Windows Server 2008 components, you should install the Print Services Role via the Server Manager interface. After it has been selected, three sub-services are associated with the Print Services role:

  • Print Server. Includes the Print Management MMC snap-in which manages the print servers and their prints, as well as the capability to migrate printers between print servers. This is the same MMC which is included in Windows Vista Business, Enterprise, and Ultimate. Windows Vista can manage a Windows Server 2008 printer environment in small environments of up to ten concurrent network connections.
  • LPD Service. The Line Printer Daemon is designed to provide print support for UNIX-based clients.
  • Internet Printing. Enables Web-based print server management, and also provides Internet Printing Protocol support  which allows for printing to a print server from the Web. Since the Internet Printing feature operates from a web site, the print server also needs to  have the Web Server role installed. The Web Server role is automatically selected and enabled when the Internet Printing sub-role is selected.

Windows Server 2008 Print Management MMC

    The Print Management MMC is focused on three core activity areas, as shown below, the navigation pane has a Custom Filters node, a Print Servers node, and finally a Deployed Printers node.

By default, there are four custom filters, which list all the known printers, all the known drivers, and any printer that is not in a ready state (which indicates a problem), and all the printers with assigned print jobs. More custom filters can be added to enable quick access to select groups of printers.

The Print Servers node displays the print servers which are known to the Print Management MMC. By default, only the local printer server is shown. Four areas of information are shown for each print server –  drivers currently installed on that print server,  forms which available for printing, ports that are used for printing local as well as  terminal server and IP, and finally  the printers  which the server has connections to.

Lastly, the Deployed Printers node shows the printers that are being deployed via group policy. This was introduced with Windows Server 2003 R2 which  used a combination of group policy and  a client-side PushPrinterConnections.exe  to check  group policy for printers and then add them. This client-side tool is not required for  Windows Server 2008 clients.

Adding Printer Servers to Windows Server 2008

To add a  print server in the Print Management console , right-click on the Print Servers  node  and select Add/Remove Servers. Using the Add/Remove Server dialog you can browse for new printers or enter  the name of a print server   to add the server:

Adding a New Printer using the Windows Server 2008 Print Management MMC

The Print Management console is designed to simplify the management of print server environments, especially for branch offices which have no local admin to set up printers. You can statically add a new printer by just right-clicking the Printers node for the print server and then selecting Add Printer. This will launch the Network Printer Installation Wizard shown below.

Most modern printers are network capable and automatically grab an IP address via DHCP but allow for static configuration via a  menu. Once the printer’s IP address is known to the admin, it can be added using the Add a TCP/IP or Web Services Printer by IP Address or Hostname option. This option will  up a new dialog requesting the name or IP of the printer. The Network Printer Installation Wizard auto-detects the printer , but it can also be manually configured as a TCP/IP or Web Services printer. Also note, that by default, the Network Printer Installation Wizard tries to detect the correct printer driver.

Once the IP address of the printer has been entered , the Network Printer Installation Wizard contacts the printer to collect  information on it, such as the make and model, to ascertain which drivers to use. If the printer has a driver which is part of the OS, it will beselected automatically. However, for  newer printers which are  not known to the OS, you will need to install the driver or use Microsoft XPS Document Writer or  Terminal Services Easy Print. The XPS Document writer is a print-to-file driver which performs like a normal printer target but the output is a XPS Format file . You should never want to use this driver for a real printer, but it is a good choice for printing to an XPS file.

When installing a  printer driver, select the Install a New Driver option. This will open a dialog with a listing of all  drivers known to the OS. Select a driver to work with your printer or click the Have Disk button to install a new driver from a media device or the network. A listing of all the printers which are serviced by the selected driver file  are displayed, simply select the relevant driver. The last dialog specifies a name for the printer, give the printer a useful name that should describe its location, type,   and capabilities (such as dual-sided, color, dual-sided, etc), as  this same dialog allows a share to be set up for the printer. The share will have separate location and comment fields,  allowing for  greater detail to be given.

Finally, confirmation screen of all the settings is shown. Click Next to install additional drivers which are required and to complete the installation of the printer to the print server. The completion dialog shows the status of the printer and driver, an option for printing t a test page, and also an option to keep the wizard open and add an additional printer. Select the required options and click Finish to complete the installation.

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