Friday, 21 July 2017

Printer Preferences

Naturally, I didn't ask Microsoft to update my operating system - I was perfectly happy with it as it was. Actually, that's not true: one is never perfectly happy with an operating system, one merely fears that change will be, as it usually is, for the worse. And so it proved this time, as it has before. The Windows 10 Creators Update made it difficult to do a number of things I'd got used to doing, and I regularly discover a lot of my nice fonts have disappeared, although I now know a little trick which seems to restore them every time that happens.

More irritatingly my old Epson all-in-one printer stopped working. This has also happened before, and eventually on the Epson website I found the complex instructions that told me how to go into the hidden program files and manually delete the now-irrelevant ones so the new device drivers would work properly. That got my old scanner interface back, but a lot of the functionality of the printer has gone. My PC now thinks the printer can do nothing other than 'print' or 'print on photo paper': draft quality options have disappeared, meaning you can't save on printer ink, and the highest-quality options aren't available either. 

To be fair, Epson responded very quickly to my queries about this problem, when getting any reply at all was a surprise, but the nature of their advice was basically 'get a new printer as your existing one is old'. This is deeply dispiriting as there's nothing wrong with the old printer: the day before the update it worked perfectly; it's depressing not because printers are expensive - they aren't - but because it's so pointless and wasteful. A member of the congregation who works in IT brought in another perspective which I didn't realise: 'printer manufacturers have lowered the price of new devices to the extent that they don't make any profit on them; they make money on the ink which is why it's so expensive, so it's not a surprise that they'd just say "get a new printer". Of course it does suggest that eventually there'll just be huge piles of perfectly good hardware lying around. And sometimes big companies like Epson can say before Microsoft issues an update that it will cause this or that problem, but there's no incentive for anyone to ensure that old devices still work.' And at the end of that process sit you and me, cursing in front of a screen.


  1. It is illogical to claim that Epsom would tell you to buy a new machine "because they make money on the ink not the printer". Why recommend that you buy a product on which they lose money? And you might buy a Canon, in which case they will lose their current stream of profits from your current printer. They are recommending you buy a new machine because sadly they were not able to future proof yours when they designed it, and Microsoft were not able to ensure that it worked with the new version of Windows.

    Similarly, if you buy a new car, your current car's tyres probably won't fit. Nor will the old windscreen wiper blades work. Or the brake pads. If you buy a new cooker the old grill tray may not fit either. And a digital camera will certainly force you to throw away that role of 35mm film.

    There are great injustices in life, but this isn't looking like the biggest to me...

  2. Well, if it's illogical, we should take it up either with the person who told me (who as an IT professional I assume is better informed than I am about the way the industry works), or the market itself. I'm not claiming this was a matter of great injustice, only of systematic ludicrousness: the matter of waste seems to me to be an important one. I'm not alleging any sort of moral failing on the part of Epson, or even of Microsoft, just that the structure in which they, and we consumers, operate produces what I maintain is, at least in some respects, a perverse result. I think your analogy of the car doesn't work very well. I would have made a choice, if I did, to buy a new car; the Microsoft update isn't something I opted for, and, had I had a choice, wouldn't have done. It is rather more like operatives from Renault coming to my house and taking my car away, leaving me with one they imagine I *ought* to have if I were thinking straight because it's nicer, resulting in me having to find somewhere else for the ladder which I kept in the garage but which no longer fits because the car is two inches wider than the old one. What I'm trying to describe is the feeling of being, in this admittedly small and limited respect, entirely at the mercy of choices being made for me; while you might be trying to persuade me that I ought to be more understanding of those choices.