Universal Drivers Not So Universal

We previously reported that Xerox released a set of universal drivers for all printers, Mobile Express Driver. The drivers identify your location by sensing the subnet your computer is on at any given time and offering up the appropriate printers you’ve associated with it. If it’s your first visit to that location, they will automatically discover available printers and let you choose from a list. They also let you choose a default for each office you visit.

It turned out, HP also introduced its Universal Print Driver, the counterpart of Mobile Express Driver.

Now it is discovered that the two set of universal drivers are not so universal. “Mobile Express works only with printers that use the PostScript page description language. It won’t work with any other printers, including those that use HP’s popular PCL format. Meanwhile, HP’s UPD works only with HP-branded printers.” So says Robert L. Mitchel at ComputerWorld.com.

In a working environment with a variety of different printers he got to test the two drivers and this what he found out.

Xerox Mobile Express Driver

Pros: Generic printer driver allows printing to any brand of printer, not just Xerox products. Can automatically discover and print to both networked and direct-attached printers.

Cons: Works only with PostScript printers. Supports only a few basic printing functions. Extended features for non-Xerox products not supported.

HP Universal Print Driver

Pros: Provides consistent user interface for all HP-branded printers. Can find both networked and direct-attached printers that have been set up as shared printers. Supports more features on HP printers than does Mobile Express.

Cons: Supports only HP printers. Works only with networked printers with a valid IP address. Offers basic printing only.

So, neither of them was a remedy for the printing problems Mitchel faced. However, both tools are useful and one can make them play nicely together.

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