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Windows 10 October 2018 Update Trims Print Drivers

Last week, Microsoft gave notice that it's planning to no longer include basic printer drivers in Windows 10 feature updates, starting with Windows 10 version 1809 (also known as the "October 2018 Update").

Microsoft is taking this approach to "reduce the Windows footprint and provide more storage space to users," according to the announcement. Instead, these drivers will be available through the Windows Update service.

Version 1809 is currently in a state of limbo, of sorts. It was released last Tuesday but was subsequently blocked by Microsoft on Saturday after some users found their files had been deleted with the upgrade.

A more recurrent problem for Windows as a Service users, however, has been the availability of disk space before system upgrades. Windows 10 feature updates can take up about 3GB of disk space. Microsoft seems to be noticing that the requirement to access such a hefty chunk of storage space every six months isn't working well for some Windows 10 users.

Microsoft offers some advice to consumers on freeing up Windows 10 disk space at this page. The schemes include using OneDrive Files On-Demand, the Disk Cleanup tool and Storage Sense, which automatically moves infrequently used OneDrive files from local storage to storage in Microsoft's datacenters.

The new driver policy announced last week is nuanced one. Previously, Microsoft had released "basic printer drivers that enabled simple printing when a full feature driver was not available." Under the new policy, starting with Windows 10 version 1809 upgrades, Microsoft won't deliver drivers with the update. However, the drivers will be available when the user performs a new printer installation, and in that case they'll arrive via the Windows Update service.

If the Windows Update service isn't turned on, the correct drivers won't get installed. Instead, the system will install Mopria-compatible printers, Microsoft's announcement indicated.

Mopria is "a set of standards" that provide for a "universal print driver," according to a description by the Mopria Alliance. The idea, originally designed to support Android devices, is to allow mobile devices to convert print data to the "appropriate file type required by the printer."

With Windows 10 version 1809, Microsoft now supports "Mopria-compatible Wi-Fi printers." The OS will install the Mopria drivers if the proper driver isn't available.

Windows 10 actually checks for proper print drivers. Microsoft has a service that ranks drivers for Windows systems. It'll check if the driver is trusted and if the printers' features are supported. It'll apply a "signature score" if the driver is trusted, and it uses a "feature score" to rank the driver's support for printer features.

This change with regard to Windows 10 printer drivers is but one of a few servicing changes Microsoft announced with version 1809 that are designed to slim down future OS feature updates. For instance, organizations using management systems for x64 systems are expected to get smaller OS download sizes. In addition, smaller monthly quality updates are expected to arrive with Windows 10 version 1809.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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