The perils of printing

It would be fair to say that I rather like Mac OS X. It does what I want it to do, and (most of the time) when I want it to do it. It's still software, and still capable of being fallible, just as any software. There are some unique factors that I think make it great value, but equally there are a number of issues that seem to conspire to annoy me.

Printing would be close to the top of that list. To say I've had a bit of a rocky road with printing under OS X would be something of an understatement. Several years ago (and in the interests of full disclosure), I won a Lexmark x342n laser printer as a door prize. A nice door prize, to be sure, and at a physical level it's served me well. I wish I could say the same for the software that runs it, which has run hot and cold, on and off, for years.  I was somewhat mentally resolved that printing and I were never going to get on under OS X, until last week.

I was testing an HP Printer for CNET — in this case the HP Officejet Pro 8000.  My normal testing for this involves printing via Windows, and with an eye to testing, I popped in the supplied driver CD. It started installing, and then it stopped. Rather hard. It turns out that for whatever reason, the supplied CD didn't support Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit, and suggested I "upgrade" to Windows Vista instead.

Perhaps somebody at HP has a sense of humour.

I'm nothing if not rather dogged, so I headed to HP's web site to see if a Windows 7-compatible driver was ava il able. It was, but I was still left a little surprised — if only because the driver download was a whopping 234MB.

This is for a printer. Not a multifunction device — there's no fax, scanning, media card reading or optional coffee maker on the side of this thing. It prints, and that's all. All except for eating up 234MB of download allowance and taking a good forty-five minutes to download from HP's curiously slow download servers. All up, getting the OfficeJet Pro 8000 to work under Windows 7 ate up about two hours of my time.

(Just in case you're worrying that you've accidentally clicked onto, this is where I switch back to your regular programming.)

Later the same day, I had a colour page on my Mac to print, and the Officejet 8000 was still set up. It's a network printer, and my curiosity (or perhaps my stubborn streak) was piqued. I figured I may as well try to find it with Bonjour first, and then worry about slow HP driver servers later. Bonjour picked it up within 30 seconds, installed drivers within twenty seconds, and a page was being processed within a minute of thinking about it.

Perhaps that's why I like Mac OS X. Two hours setup time versus one minute? I know which I'd pick.

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