WS2008: Print Management Enhancements

WS2008: Print Management Enhancements

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Welcome to Day Thirteen.  We have reached the halfway point of our series.  There's only two weeks to go!  Today we'll continue on with our look at Printing in Windows Server 2008 - in particular the enhancements to Print Management and the Print Management Console (PMC).

There are two primary tools that are used to manage the Print Services role in Windows Server 2008, the Server Manager and the Print Management Console.  The PMC was introduced in Windows Server 2003 R2 and has been enhanced in Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008.  The Server Manager utility and its integration with Print Services is a new feature of Windows Server 2008.  One important thing to remember is that the Print Management instance that is available inline under the Print Services role node in the Server Manager console can only be used to manage the local server.  To manage multiple print servers, you would need to either use the PMC or use an MMC snap-in.

For those who have never used the PMC before, it is an MMC snap-in that enables you to install, view, monitor, manage, migrate and deploy printers from Windows Vista or Windows Server 2008.  The PMC provides real-time details about the status of printers and print servers on the network.  PMC can help you locate printers that have an error condition by using filters.  You can also send e-mail notifications or run scripts when a printer or print server requires attention.  To use the PMC on Windows Server 2008, the Print Services role or the Print Services Tools Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) feature must be installed.  On systems running Windows Vista, the Print Management snap-in is automatically installed and available as an MMC snap-in - as shown in the image below (a default view of the PMC on Windows Vista)

To take full advantage of Print Management, you must be logged on as a domain administrator or be a member of the local Administrators group on the print servers you are managing.  Member of the Print Operators group can perform domain printer management but they cannot deploy printers using Group Policy.  Print Management allows you to manage printers running on print server running Windows 2000, Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008.

Let's take a look at some of the new functionality available in the new version of PMC.  You can use Print Management with Group Policy to automatically deploy printer connections to users or computers.  This feature was introduced in Windows Server 2003 R2, but it required the use of the PushPrinterConnections.exe tool in a startup script (for per-computer connections) or in a logon script (for per-user connections).  This functionality is included in client computers running Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008.  These operating systems can also receive per-user printer connections during background Group Policy refreshes.  In order to deploy printer connections using Group Policy, the domain controller must either be running Windows Server 2008, or running Windows Server 2003 with the Windows Server 2008 schema extensions installed.  To deploy a printer using the PMC, right-click the printer that you want to deploy and select the Deploy with Group Policy... option as shown below and then follow the wizard.  Remember that you will need to use the PushPrinterConnections.exe tool on Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 systems.

The default security settings for Windows Vista allows non-administrative users to install trusted printer drivers, such as those provided inbox with the operating system, or in digitally signed printer-driver packages.  This helps to ensure that users do not install untested or unreliable printer drivers or drivers that may have been modified to contain malicious code.  However, a non-administrative user cannot install a local printer on a Windows Server 2008 system.  This is specifically blocked by the operating system and cannot be circumvented.  A non-administrative user will not be given the option to install a local printer in the Add Printer Wizard.  This enhanced security means that sometimes users cannot install the appropriate driver for a shared network printer, even if the driver has been tested and approved for use within the environment.  To allow users who are not members of the local Administrators group to connect to a print server and install printer drivers that are hosted by the server, you can use one of the following methods:

  • Install printer-driver packages on the print server
  • Use Group Policy to deploy printer connections to users or computers
  • Use Group Policy to modify printer driver security settings

Within the Print Management Console, you can use filters to display only those printers that meet a specific set of criteria.  For example, if you wanted to filter for printers at a specific location, or those printers that are out of paper you could use the filtering tools within PMC to build dynamic filters that return current data.  There is a new default filter included with the PMC on Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 that displays all drivers installed on the selected server as well as the versions for the drivers (see below):

Within the new PMC, you can now filter by up to six criteria.  This is an increase from the previous limit of three which allows you to create more specific filters as shown below.  In this particular example, I want to find all of my Printers that are Shared from Servers whose names begin with PRINT that are in Texas and have a paper jam so that I can have a print technician visit each of the printers and clear the jam.

The performance of Print Management when managing or monitoring large servers has been improved also.  The sorting of printers and print servers takes less time, and you can now add a large number of servers to Print Management simultaneously by pasting a list of servers into the Add/Remove Servers dialog box.  Server names can be separated using spaces, commas or line breaks.

That will do it for this post.  Tomorrow we'll begin looking at Terminal Services on Windows Server 2008.  Until next time ...

Additional Resources:

- CC Hameed

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  • I'm having problems running scripts when I filter for printers with errors. I want to run the following command setprinter.exe \\servername\printername 0 purge using

    setprinter.exe \\%2\%1 0 purge

    Is there something I'm doing wrong?

  • i want complete steps for installing and managing printers using windows 2008 server