Parallels: Using networked HP LaserJet printer in Windows XP

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Windows
November 3rd, 2006 • 4:59 pm

As indicated in a recent post, I found the experience of installing and running Windows XP on my Mac Pro pretty painless and the result pretty impressive. I tried both Parallels, which lets you run Windows XP in a window within the Mac OS X environment, and Apple’s Boot Camp, which lets you boot your Intel-based Mac directly into Windows XP.

I expect that I will continue to use both on a regular basis, because I need the ability to run some Windows applications within the Mac OS X environment for my work (especially Windows web browsers to check for web design issues) and I want to be able to run some Windows-only games, which require Boot Camp for 3D video acceleration.

What I hadn’t done until today, however, is configure Windows XP to use the printer that I use for most of my printing needs in my home office. It’s an HP LaserJet 1320n, which is connected to my LAN router (an AirPort Extreme Base Station) via Ethernet.

Using the LaserJet from within the Mac OS X environment is painless, since the network-ready LaserJet 1320n supports a number of Mac-friendly protocols, including the “zero-config” Bonjour protocol (formerly known as Rendezvous), and Mac OS X comes with all kinds of HP printer drivers built-in. On the Windows XP side, on the other hand, especially within the Parallels environment, things are slightly more complicated. Here’s a short description of what I ended up doing, which is still pretty simple, but might be useful to other people in a similar situation.

I first went to Apple’s web page for the Bonjour protocol, which I knew included a download for a Windows installer that allows you to add support for the Bonjour protocol to Windows XP.

I downloaded the “BonjourSetup.exe” file in Mac OS X with Safari, and simply copied that file in the Finder to one of my “shared folders” that I can also access from within the Windows XP environment in Parallels.

I then went to Parallels, found the “BonjourSetup.exe” file in the shared folder, and launched the installer. Apple’s Bonjour installer guided me through the several steps required to install the protocol, and then asked me if I wanted to add a shortcut for its Bonjour Printer Assistant application on my Windows XP desktop. I said yes, it added the shortcut, and then the installer told me that it was done. It didn’t ask me to restart Windows XP, which I would a bit strange, since it was adding a new protocol to the operating system.

Nonetheless, I went ahead without rebooting and double-clicked on the Bonjour Printer Assistant application in Windows XP. The application ran just fine and did indeed automatically find my LaserJet 1320n, but only as a “shared printer.”

(It also found my Canon CP-300 USB printer, which I don’t think supports Bonjour, but is a shared printer in my Mac OS X environment so that my wife can use it from her PowerBook G4 without having to physically connect to the printer. Presumably sharing a USB printer makes it part of the Bonjour loop that Apple’s Windows XP software can scan through.)

I tried adding this “shared” LaserJet 1320n to my Windows XP environment using the Bonjour Printer Assistant application. The first problem was that it couldn’t find an appropriate printer description file in Windows XP for this printer. It didn’t find one automatically, and when I tried to select one manually, I couldn’t find the LaserJet 1300 Series in the list of available drivers. But it also had an option to manually select an “.inf” file on a manufacturer’s disk for the printer. So I went looking for the CD-ROM that had come with the HP LaserJet 1320 (which I hadn’t had to use to be able to use the printer with Mac OS X). I found it eventually and inserted it and indeed, I was able to find an “.inf” file for the HP LaserJet 1320 on that CD-ROM, so I selected that file and instructed the Bonjour Printer Assistant application to proceed with that file.

The application did appear to recognize the file and try to use it, but then it ended up giving me an error message, without any really useful explanation about what had failed.

At that point, I figured that maybe I should reboot Windows XP just the same, even though Apple’s installer hadn’t asked me to do so. I also figured that I probably should try installing the HP LaserJet 1320 software for Windows XP directly from the CD-ROM that came with the printer, outside the Bonjour Printer Assistant application. I thought that I would do that, and then return to the Bonjour Printer Assistant application and try again to add the printer.

So I quit the Bonjour Printer Assistant application, rebooted, and then launched the Windows XP installer on the CD-ROM. That went fine—and in fact the HP installer itself was immediately able to see my HP printer during the process of installing its drivers, so I went along and tried to use HP’s software to add the printer to my Windows XP environment, instead of using Apple’s Bonjour Printer Assistant application. I was a bit surprised by this, since HP’s software is usually so atrocious and user-hostile, but it did in fact see my Bonjour-enabled HP printer right away, and was actually able to complete the installation process and add the HP LaserJet 1320 to my Windows XP environment as a regular Windows XP printer.

I tried to print a test page and, apart from the fact that the text included in the test page (with all the paths to all the files installed in Windows by the installer) was too long to fit on a single Letter US page and was simply chopped off at the bottom of the page, it worked fine. The test page did include the HP logo in high resolution and a line congratulating me for having installed the HP software and assuring me that, if that test page was readable, that meant that the installation had succeeded!

And indeed after that I launched Word XP and saw that I was able to print to the HP LaserJet 1320 from within Word XP without any problems. I have yet to test this with a variety of documents, of course, especially with documents including Postscript stuff, but essentially it seems to be working just fine—and I didn’t even need Apple’s Bonjour Printer Assistant application!

This is not to say that Windows XP has suddenly become extremely user-friendly, of course. But at least as far as printing is concerned, it is not horribly worse than Mac OS X, whose own interface for adding printers is far from perfect anyway. And Parallels appears to do a good job of letting Windows XP see printers (at least Bonjour-enabled printers) connected to the network and used on the Mac OS X side of things.

So now I have pretty much a fully operational Windows XP environment, with Internet access, proper support for my peripherals, and access to my main printer. What else can you ask for?

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