Changes to Printing in Windows Server 2019

Originally published on Feb 22, 2019

Server 2019 is Here!
For those of us who have been operating in the Windows server space for a while now, it may feel odd that a new server version is already being released! Since 2003, IT organizations have had almost 4 years between the stress of server upgrades. But starting with Windows Server 2016, Microsoft has moved from releasing a new server version every few years to a semi-annual release cycle.

Microsoft is targeting Windows Server releases during Spring and Fall about every 18 months. This new release cycle will be consistent with the rest of the major release cycles coming out of Redmond, including Windows 10 and Microsoft Office 365. This new release strategy will bring cutting-edge features to customers much faster, but it may also cause strain on IT departments to keep up with the update cycle and changes in each release.

I wanted to help anyone who is curious about how Server 2019 may impact their print environment, so I put on my scuba suit and did some TechNet diving for you. Here are the most important changes to Server 2019 and printing.

On, Then Off, Then On Again
Most organizations that are taking advantage of Server Core desire a server OS that is lean and stripped of any unnecessary functionality. In Server 2016 Microsoft started enabling print server components by default. However, in 2019 Microsoft has done another 180 and again disabled print server components by default in Server Core.

If you would like to enable the print feature in Server Core 2019, you can do so by running the cmdlet “Install-WindowsFeature Print-Server.”

Removal of Common Type 4 Drivers
Starting in Windows 10’s version 1809 release in October, we saw that Microsoft removed common type 4 drivers that were previously shipped with the OS. Microsoft has removed the built-in type 4 driver repository in order to “reduce the Windows footprint and provide more storage.” This was somewhat burdensome for users who would have to run Windows Update service to load the print drivers they needed for their specific printers.

With the release of Server 2019, we see that Microsoft has taken the same approach by removing the common type 4 drivers that were shipped with Server 2016. This has left many IT departments in a bind when standing up a new Microsoft 2019 Server that will be running as a print server. IT departments now must locate and load the type 4 drivers they need to support their printer fleet. This problem is amplified for an organization that has many different types of printers in their fleet.

Still No Spooler Clustering
One of the implications of Server 2019 and print servers isn’t so much a feature that was added or a feature that was removed, but the rather a feature that is still missing. Starting with Server 2012 Microsoft removed the ability to cluster print server spoolers. This has forced organizations to accept their print servers as a single point of failure. Many organizations were hopeful that print server clustering was going to be reintroduced with Server 2016, but were sadly disappointed. The continued absence of this feature in Server 2019 makes me wonder if Microsoft is paying any attention to their own print server spooling service.

Stay Tuned
With the faster release cycle of Microsoft server versions, we all may ultimately benefit from Microsoft’s ability to react to market demands quickly and release features that benefit enterprise IT environments. Here at PrinterLogic we will keep gladly sifting through and finding the most relevant changes to printing and bubble them to the top for anyone interested. Subscribe to this blog for the latest updates.

If you want to keep your server core as “lean” as possible, why not completely remove the print server role? Or if you are stressing about building out a type 4 driver repository, or want to completely eliminate print servers and the single point of failure, let PrinterLogic show you how to modernize your print environment and eliminate the need for print servers. Download a free 30-day trial today.