Windows Server 2008: Printer-Driver Packages

Today we'll continue on with our Printing theme - specifically, Printer-driver packages.  We'll also provide some background on the driver store feature of Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008. Printer-driver packages are digitally signed printer drivers that install all of the components of the driver to the driver store on computers running Windows Vista or […]

Today we'll continue on with our Printing theme - specifically, Printer-driver packages.  We'll also provide some background on the driver store feature of Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008.

Printer-driver packages are digitally signed printer drivers that install all of the components of the driver to the driver store on computers running Windows Vista or Windows Server 2008.  Using printer-driver packages on a print server that is running Windows Vista or Windows Server 2008 enables users who are not members of the local Administrators group to connect to the print server and install (or receive) updated printer drivers.  Before we go too much further, let's go over the concept of the driver store.

The driver store was first introduced in Windows Vista as a trusted cache of drivers that are stored in subfolders in the following folder: %systemroot%\system32\DriverStore\FileRepository.  The subfolder naming convention is based upon the name of the INF file that accompanies the package, along with an 8-character suffix as shown below:

imageWhen a third-party driver (including a printer driver) is installed, the driver package is automatically copied into the driver store.  The driver is then installed from the driver store.  When a driver package has been copied into the driver store it is staged.  Drivers can be staged without immediately being installed on the system.  This makes the drivers available for installation at a later time.  Adding a driver package to the driver store requires administrator rights, by default.  Once a driver package has been staged, the driver may be installed by a non-administrative user.

End users do not generally interact with the driver store itself.  All driver developers, including printer driver developers, must understand the workings of the driver store during driver installation as it will effect the driver development process.

Normal driver installation methods, such as INF-based installation or installation via a setup application, automatically copy the driver package into the driver store.  Driver package integrity and signing are checked when the driver package is added to the driver store.  An administrator can also add a driver package to the driver store manually, without installing the driver, by using the Pnputil.exe utility.  This utility ships with Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008.

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Microsoft, WS2008, Windows Server 2008, Printing, Driver, Packages, Architecture, Knowledgebase