Musings of Geekdom by Eric Newton

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Printing via Remote Desktop vs PDF vs Metro

So obviously anybody who's had to put up with Remote Desktops and Printing understand that the whole printing system in Windows has major flaws.  Granted, they are unforseen flaws, but flaws nonetheless.

For starters, we all thought that with printer drivers, an application could just say “Render this bitmap at this location”, “Write some text here, write some more text here in this font” and so forth.  Then the printer guys started adding cool whiz-bang features, like ink level detection and paper jam notification and on and on. 

Now we have lots of virtualization happening, where I have set up an Application Server that hosts our important apps for our sales and accounting people, all working from home.   One server hosts about 10 people right now.  Its a maintenance panacea, especially for anyone who's gone through the patching process in Quickbooks “Enterprise” (in quotes because its hardly an enterprise app, limited to 10 people, etc etc).  Its great to only have to update one single machine.  And the sales and accounting people love it because they can work from home.

However, its got a major drawback: printing.  Our guys really do need to print from the App Server to their printer, sitting at home.  This situation has forced me to install 10 different printer drivers onto the App Server, and one particular printer driver (from a well known company, not HP) doesnt operate properly in a Windows 2003 Terminal Server environment.

So obviously having to have each printer's driver installed to the Term Server is an obvious problem.   So now consider PDF... a truly portable document format, complete with embeddable fonts. 

So why don't we all have printers that understand PDF?  In theory, I should be able to send the whole PDF to the printer.  Obviously that's what PostScript tried to do, and worked to some degree, although PostScript IMO was way too convuluted.

I wonder if Vista will be able to address this problem?  Some new kind of printing API is truly needed that can virtualize even the printer. Granted most people never even realize that there even is a problem, but as more and more businesses begin to consolidate servers and move applications around, we cant be dragging our feet on the printing problem.

Print | posted on Wednesday, January 25, 2006 10:55 AM |

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