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On Windows Vista, other than the driver, one can use a regular printer w/o any extra software, either plugged in via USB or over the network. I don't have to install extra software from the printer vendor to use the basic printer functionality. Is the same true for wireless printers?

I need to install the HP 6000 wireless printer, and I hate installing vendor software other than the required drivers. So I'm wondering whether I need to install HP software on every PC that wants to use this printer? I haven't had a chance to read the manual but I'm hoping I don't have to. Can folks that have experience with wireless printers comment on whether vendor software, other than the printer driver, is required to use a wireless printer?

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HP does offer a driver only download at their site for your machine. I'm sure it will work with the wireless option as well as the wired. The wired/wireless is strictly how you connect the printer to the network and should have nothing to do with the driver.

I do not have my HP printer hooked up wirelessly to my network but I did driver only installations on all of the computers since none would be needing the full version of the software.

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I wonder how to setup the wireless SSID, security,etc w/o installing any other software but the driver? – Sajee Sep 30 '09 at 15:30
Usually these printers have a screen on them and you can configure it all through the menu option on the printer itself. – MDMarra Sep 30 '09 at 15:53
If you install bonjour for windows (or know the IP) you can often browse the the printer's web-based console. This sometimes allows you to reconfigure the machine to set it differently from the defaults, but only works if the defaults are already functional enough. – dlamblin Oct 12 '09 at 23:48
I have a C6180 and I configured my SSID and key from the console on the printer. It works great in Linux and in Windows Vista using the HP Driver only download. Make sure you follow up with the "Fix for disappearing printer icon" also available on hp's site. – Joshua Kersey Oct 13 '09 at 1:04

A network printer is connected to the network, period. It doesn't matter if it's wired or wireless. It gets an IP address and you are printing to that IP address. There's no way for your client to even know whether the it's connected via wireless or not.

So assuming the printer itself can be printed to using standard protocols (raw, lpr, ipp, etc.), all you should need is the basic driver to print with.

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Here's a secret: everything that makes "regular" printers work is vendor specific software that came pre-installed with Windows 7. Printers that did not have their drivers preinstalled, either because they are rare, old, or released after the time when Windows 7 bundled their software. It's barely different or better to have to install some driver versus use the included driver. In fact, an installed driver will likely be more up to date.

Here's another secret: Your computer can talk to any network printer regardless of wether that printer is networked in a wireless or wired fashion. This is similar to the idea that your computer can one day talk to both wired and wireless usb devices, when they become common place. Either way, your operating system needs a driver to help it decide how to send it print jobs and to know what features (double-sided, page sizes, trays, color or grayscale) it supports. Had all printers been PostScript or it's derivatives this would have been less of an issue, but that wasn't to be.

Certain parts of the software you are talking about for your printer are not the driver itself. These tools help to configure and setup the printer on your network. These only need to be run once and generally do not need to be installed on multiple machines. Another tip is that most HP Printers have good zeroconf/Bonjour support, and installing Apple's Bonjour for Windows might get you a better setup experience than trying to wrangle with Window's device discovery and printer adding system.

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Vista already has UPnP support. – Joshua Kersey Oct 13 '09 at 1:08
I think you'll find that UPnP is different from Zeroconf: But they address similar issues, which UPnP is more rigid and takes longer to define, it's also more complete about how devices communicate. – dlamblin Oct 13 '09 at 20:55
up vote -1 down vote accepted

I finally had a chance to install the printer. I had to install the HP software on a PC and connect the PC and printer via USB. The HP software enabled me to configure the wireless settings on the printer (the printer didn't have any way to set the SSID, WEP, etc). Once the printer was set up with the wireless information, the other PCs were able to find it and could print to it w/o any additional software other than what Vista provides. Overall, this was a pretty smooth experience. The only downside was that HP software installed a Yahoo toolbar and sidebar to IE, which I resented since the software didn't provide any way to opt-out of this crapware install.

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this wasnt really a solution/answer to your question (in fact delivering the opposite intended result) when you had already been provided a correct solution. – Joshua Kersey Oct 13 '09 at 1:07
I'm presenting my findings in hopes of clarifying the answers. So I think my answer was pretty relevant. – Sajee Nov 12 '09 at 15:42

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