What's "Point and Print"?

A. Windows 2000 Server and later has the ability to automatically download and install printer drivers from the network print server for remote printers. This automatic printer driver installation is known as Point and Print because the user simply points to the remote printer he or she wants to use, and Windows takes care of the driver installation and configuration.

For example, Win2K and later clients use version 3 drivers, so you need only one printer driver to support all machines running Win2K and later. Older clients, such as Windows NT 4.0, use version 2 drivers. Therefore, to enable the Point and Print feature for NT 4.0 clients, you need to install the version 2 driver on the print server, which you do via the Printer Properties' Additional Drivers option. You can also add support for Windows 9x clients, however these clients use a Server Message Block (SMB) connection instead of the Remote Procedure Call (RPC) that NT 4.0 and later use. This means the print server can't pass configuration settings to the client and therefore some manual client-side action is required.

If a remote printer uses a driver not included with the client OS or if the printer has a newer driver, the print server notifies the client, which then pulls the driver from the print server and stores it in the %systemroot%\system32\spool\drivers\w32x86\3 folder. Additionally, whenever a newer driver is installed on the print server, the next time the client attempts to use the printer the print server sends the new driver to the client. Figure 1 and Figure 2 show a scenario in which a printer was using the built-in Windows driver, then the updated HP driver was installed and the print server sent the driver to the client when the client attempted to print.

This Point and Print behavior is useful in migration/upgrade situations. As long as you migrate the user's profile and settings, the printer drivers will automatically reinstall on the new OS when the user logs on or uses the printer.

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