Print Distributor on Windows 8

Note: Print Distributor has now been discontinued.

6 October 2011

Last month Microsoft announced a very early preview for Windows 8. There are quite a lot of changes we are excitied about, in particular the continued journey towards XPS as the default spool file format.

Windows 8 introduces a new printer driver model called v4. These drivers are all based on XPS and will support XPS, PostScript and PCL printers directly without any binary components. Unfortunately they don’t support 3rd party port monitors which is the component we use to route prints from a virtual printer into Print Distributor.

Over the last few releases of Windows Microsoft has been pushing developers away from writing native components for the print spooler. There is good reason for this, the quality of some printer software is attrocious and any instability in a printer driver or port monitor can cause the spooler to crash.

This leaves us with quite a lot of work to do to make Print Distributor compatible with Windows 8. The first thing we have done is create a prototype to prove we can achieve what we need, this is running fine. As usual we expect to have a test release available when Microsoft makes their release candidate available, probably some time next year.