Messed up metadata could be to blame for Microsoft's Windows printer woes

It looks like everything is coming up HP. Do you want some help with that?

The curious case of the HP Smart app and unexpected renaming of printers has taken another turn, after a Reg reader pointed to broken metadata pushed out in a November Windows Servicing Stack Update (SSU).

Our reader notes that the issue appeared to start with the update, which is when we first caught wind that not all was right. This caused printers to identify themselves as HP. Once that happened, the HP Smart apps package was triggered because Windows detected HP products on the system.

printer rage

Microsoft confirms Smart App issue renaming everyone's printers to HP


The reader went on to note that support personnel were initially quite happy for the afflicted users to believe it was all an HP issue "until we pointed out none of our kit has the HP app as it's blocked."


Our reader told us, "They've pulled the SSU KBs and also seem to have switched off the metadata service, which jazzes up printer icons and info." is an enterprise connection endpoint used to retrieve device metadata. If one blocks traffic from it, metadata won't be updated. Like, say, renaming printers to HP Laserjets and changing the icons.

We put the suggestions to Microsoft, but the company has yet to respond.

However, as of last night, Microsoft had updated the known issue regarding the problem to include the text: "Our investigations indicate that this issue is not caused by an HP update."

So the fault presumably lies somewhere within Microsoft, but, as the company says: "We are investigating this issue and will provide an update when more information is available."

Hopefully, Microsoft will get a move on. As well as exonerating HP from blame, Microsoft warned techies dealing with the problem that while standard operations should work as expected, this issue "might affect associations with other manufacturer-supplied printer apps to extend basic printer capabilities." It added: "If this is the case, some or all of those extended functions might not work."

And not just those. Our reader noted that while most users were unlikely to be hit by the problems, "secure print and scanning is borked for many."

We asked Microsoft's Copilot – because that is where all the investment seems to be going instead of, you know, testing stuff – when printing would get fixed. It directed us to a March 2021 update and the automated printer troubleshooter. It ended with a perky "I hope this helps!"

No. It really didn't. ®

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