Overview of Printing in Windows 8
Windows 8 is designed to provide a platform that hardware designers can use to highlight device features that provide a richer experience for users. Hardware vendors can achieve device differentiation by customizing the relevant components in the print system. Customization empowers users, allowing them to access the full functionality of a device.
Even without customization Windows 8 printing presents users with a rich set of UI elements that provide a good experience. The default print behaviors are generic and not specific to any print device.
The following sections provide high level overviews of the Windows 8 print experience with the different printer driver models and within the context of a Windows Store device app.
V3 printer driver model and Windows 8 printing
The v3 printer driver model existed before Windows 8 was developed. Printers that are connected to Windows 8 computers with v3 printer drivers installed will continue to work as they currently do with desktop applications.
When printing from a Windows Store device app to a printer using a v3 printer driver, the user is presented with the default print experience; print features like stapling, duplex selection, and paper size options that are common to all printers all are available. Driver-specific features like PIN-secured printing are unavailable when printing from Windows Store device apps to v3 printer drivers.
V4 printer driver model and Windows 8 printing
The printer driver model has been redesigned for Windows 8. The new driver is called the v4 printer driver model. Support for Windows Store apps and their UI and environment has been integrated into the v4 printer driver. V4 printer drivers can use apps to provide customized print UIs for Windows Store device apps and desktop apps.
A v4 printer driver can also include an app known as a printer extension that provides the ability to customize the print preferences UI. A printer extension can also support printer notifications.
When a user connects a device to a computer that is running Windows 8, Windows automatically searches for the best driver and downloads device metadata from the Windows Metadata Information Store (WMIS). For Windows 8, this metadata can optionally describe a type of app called a Windows Store device app that exists in the Windows Store and supports the device. Regardless of the type of driver that the device is using, Windows will download the same
Windows Store device app. The device app reinforces the manufacturer’s brand and is a great platform for providing support.
For more information about the v4 printer driver model, see Developing a v4 Printer Driver.
Windows Store device apps for printers
Customizing and branding the print experience in Windows 8 involves the development of the Windows Store device app for printers.
After a Windows Store device app for printers is installed, it can be launched in three different contexts: the Start experience, the Advanced Print Settings experience, and the Print Notifications experience.
Installation of a Windows Store device app
As part of the development process for a Windows Store device app, an app ID is created and is associated with a model or range of models of a print device. The first time a Windows 8 user sets up a printer for which a customized print experience is available, Windows 8 automatically searches the Windows Store using the printer’s app ID for the related Windows Store device app. If Windows 8 finds the appropriate Windows Store device app, the app is downloaded and installed. The software component that ties the app ID to the printer models is called the device metadata.
A Windows Store device app for printers can deliver three types of experiences in a single app package:
The Start experience
The Windows 8 Start screen can include a tile to invoke a Windows Store device app for printers. When the device app is configured using the Start experience, the user taps the Start screen tile to launch the device app.
The Advanced Print Settings experience
A Windows Store device app can be configured to extend the printer settings that Windows offers. The Windows Store device app can be invoked when the user taps More Settings in the Print window. The Advanced Print Settings experience enables IHVs to provide the customization and branding described earlier.
Print Notifications experience
A Windows Store device app can also be configured to function as a printer notification UI. In this configuration, the Windows Store device app provides a Printer Notifications experience. Printer notifications use a new concept called driver events. These events work with the Bidirectional Schema (also called Bidi) and the AsyncUI protocol (MS-PAN) to raise alerts about the status of the print device.
For example, when a user starts to print, the user could be made aware of the fact that the ink levels are low.
Customization and device differentiation: A rich printing experience
Printing in Windows 8 is designed to make it possible to provide a full fidelity, device-specific experience through customization. A rich printing experience in Windows 8 could, for example, include providing users with creative printing scenarios or providing users with video-based troubleshooting steps to help them resolve a problem.
For more information about Windows Store device apps and to learn how to develop one, see Developing a Windows Store device app for printers.