Things that happened today - printers

Photo of a pile of broken printers. Image from

In which I mostly complain about printers.

Is it just me, or is all printer software terrible? I've only owned a few printers, but I've used dozens more, and I can't remember ever encountering one bit of printer software that was easy to use. It feels like one of those things that no one can be bothered to do right, like DVD drives that should open when you press the eject button and not ten seconds later.

Angry introductions aside, I recently had to reconfigure my wireless printer after I changed my broadband hub. In theory, a simple process; connect the printer to my laptop, tell it the new connection details, done. In theory.

Even if I wasn't an IT professional with years of experience, configuring a printer should not be difficult. Anyone should be able to do it. I'll spare you the intricate details of the many hours of my life that were wasted. Instead, I'll share with you a series of screenshots to highlight how utterly terrible printer software is.

To start, I opened the HP Solution Center. Here's a question: where would you expect to find options for configuring your printers wireless config?

The HP Solution Center, showing the main screen with various options

Sorry, but that was a trick question. There aren't any! Clearly "Solution Center" isn't an accurate name.

Frustrated, I turned to the install disc that came with the printer. Surely that would help?

An installation menu with only one option - exit


And yes, that is the entirety of the menu I was presented with, I've not doctored the image in any way. If I was feeling antagonistic I might be led to ask why a photograph of someone's doorway is necessary at this point, but let's move on to more unhelpful screens, shall we?


Here's another good one. Turns out Windows 10 has an app called HP Smart, which initially looked very promising...

I genuinely thought I was making progress at this point. See everything in blue on the right? It looks like you can click on those things, doesn't it? And when you try it, they move as if something has happened. But nothing happens. It's like the designers of this interface thought "hey, how can we taunt our customers?".

Eventually I gave up and downloaded the latest driver from the HP website, which worked. It had exactly the same menu as the one with the door picture, but this time there were lots of other options. I don't know why that didn't happen the first time.

A bit later, I got this screen. Take a look at it and have a think about what point 3 could mean.

In case you can't read it, it says "Wait 60 seconds before continuing. During this time, the printer installation will start".

This raises many questions.

  • Why do I have to wait 60 seconds?
  • Do I wait 60 seconds and then press 'continue'?
  • Do I wait 60 seconds and then 'continue' will happen automatically?
  • Is something happening right now, that isn't being shown?
  • What happens if I press 'continue' immediately? Will it break?

Sadly, despite seeing this screen far more times than I wanted to, I have no answers to any of these questions.

I did eventually get the printer configured, but it seriously damaged my calm.


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