Adding a Printer in Vista Just got Worse

Last week, I got a beautiful new laptop at work with Vista on it. 

I approached my first week of Vista with patience and an open mind: I knew that things were going to be different – that’s kind of the point.  All the nooks and crannies of the old Windows that I knew so intimately have changed and now I feel a little less adequate as a person.  But overall, I’m learning quickly (the Search bar on the Start menu is becoming my friend) and darn – my glass bubble screen saver and side bar are SO PRETTY!  They do make me smile.

I’ve gone over a full week before I had the need to print something (which makes me feel proud of technology).  So I finally reached the point where I needed to configure a printer to my laptop on my corporate network.

On Windows XP, this used to be so easy:

1. I would go to the Start Menu and click on "Printers and Faxes"

2. A window would launch and there would be a big task bar on the left hand side.  The top section said "Printer Tasks" and the first task was….you guessed it!  "Add a printer"

add a printer

3.  In the "Add a printer" wizard I would click the Next button three times: once to get through the "welcome" screen and twice to accept choosing a printer from the network (which was the default option selected) and third time to find the printer on the network.

4.  Then the "Find printers" dialog would come up and I would click "Find Now".  It would show me a list of printers available to me on the network in my building.

5.  I would then select the printer I wanted and click OK.

6.  The printer would be added and I would have two more clicks to determine if it should be my default printer and complete and exit the Wizard.

I’m glossing over some clicks in these bullets – so while conceptually there seems to be 6 STEPS I think overall it’s about a 10-click process at best. 

While very smooth, this process stands for tons of improvement.  In Vista, it just got worse.  Here’s how:

On Vista I want to add a printer.

1.  I go the Start menu and I have no idea what to click on.

2.  I type the word "Printer" in the Start menu search box and click on the "Printers" item listed under "Programs". 

3.  I now get a new looking window that lists the default printer and fax connections. 

4.  I’m now looking for the big "Add a printer" button.  I have a million folders listed on the left side…a bunch of printers on the right…Where is my "Add a printer" button?


5. I have now had to perform DOUBLE the amount of steps that I did previously to get to this point.  Now I’m in the "Add a printer" wizard.  This looks like an improvement (below).  I choose the second option to add a network printer.


6. Unfortunately, no printers are found:


7. Searching again gets me the same result so I have to click "The printer that I want isn’t listed" (or Cancel and add no printer).

8. Now I have to find a printer by name or TCP/IP address


Of course there must be a good reason I couldn’t have just come straight to this dialog in the first place, or bypassed it completely when the wizard tried to search for my printer on the network.  I’m just not sure what that reason is.

9. I click "Next" in this dialog and get to my friendly "Find printers" dialog FROM STEP 4 (I’m now on STEP 9) in the previous scenario on XP.

10. I select my printer and wait for it to be added.  It’s taking a long time….Vista is thinking and:


I have to INSTALL THE DRIVER for the printer!!

11. I click to "Install Driver".  Did my machine just crash….wait, what is going on?  Some other applications just crashed and….oh: I get the security prompt from Vista to allow the driver to install.  Lovely.

12 – 13. Now I’m done and the printer has been added and it takes two more screens to set the printer name and print a test page:



Now 13 steps later I am convinced that adding a printer just got worse on Vista.


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1 Comment »

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