Has anyone tried using VMware to gain support for old printers?

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Has anyone tried using VMware to get support for old printers?

For example, it might be possible to run a virtual Windows XP or
Windows 98 under VMware Workstation so that the printer could be
used by issuing the print command for the file from within the
virtual machine.

I don't see why this wouldn't work for network connected printers
and it probably should work for parallel port printers as well.

Re: Has anyone tried using VMware to gain support for old printers?


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If I understand your proposal correctly, what you're planning likely
won't work.   At least, it won't work if the real printer isn't
supported on your host OS, as you're suggesting.   VMWare is a virtual
PC emulator.   You're assuming that a copy of WindowsXP installed on a
virtual PC will be able to see and talk to the real hardware directly,
bypassing the host OS.   That's not how a PC emulator works.  All the
hardware that this version of XP will see won't be real.   It'll be
emulated, a figment of the hostOS's imagination.  The emulator still
needs to communicate with the host OS to print out anything as the
Host OS is the one that can communicate with the real hardware in the
real world.   If the there's no driver for the real printer for the
Host OS, you'll get the same effect as if you tried to print under the
Host OS, because ultimately, that's what you're doing.

Your best bet is to look for 3rd party drivers (which don't always
exist), try a related product's drivers and hope forthe best, or
(least trouble) buy a new printer that *is* supported under the

Re: Has anyone tried using VMware to gain support for old printers?

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If the printer is USB, this technique will probably work -- I use a Palm
which has no driver available in the host (Vista x64) in a guest (Vista
x86), VMWare has no trouble working it out, although I do have to
re-attach the Palm to the VMWare machine more often then I like.

For networked printers, it would definitely work as the host doesn't get
involved, it's just IP traffic from the host's point of view, the
content of the traffic isn't important.  The same would apply to
parallel printers, as neither VMWare nor the host needs to understand
the protocol, just pass the data.

Re: Has anyone tried using VMware to gain support for old printers?

On Wed, 09 Jan 2008 22:50:58 -0700, DevilsPGD

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I wasn't able to try with a parallel connected printer, but
I was successful in using a USB 2.0 connection to an hp LaserJet 3030
and an Ethernet connection to an OKI C3400n.

My configuration was:
 Host: Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2
 VMware Workstation V6.0.2 build-59824
 Virtual machine: Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2
     V6.x virtual machine

I connected each printer in turn and installed each with its
own software from a (virtual) CD.  In general, depending
on the printer and the virtual operating system, you should
be able to use the Windows of printer manufacturer's software as

I didn't try Windows 98 for the virtual machine since I thought
that the main problem is the lack of Vista drivers.  I think
that things would work with Windows 98 as the virtual machine,
but I didn't have a W98 based vm around to try.
Note: the hp printer, and older hardware, in general,
will get a bunch of messages about the drivers and software
not being validated for use with Windows XP if you have Service
Pack 2 on the virtual machine.

For locally connected devices (i.e., USB), the device should
be off then on while the virtual machine is active.  This way
the host operating system stops seeing it and the virtual
machine can see it.  (I don't known if parallel port stuff
requires any special action.)

I didn't try with VMware Workstation V5.x.  I tried a
V5.x virtual machine with V6 and got errors when the
USB device was connected, so I moved to V6.  However,
it turned out that I was using a USB 2.0 port which is
unsupported in V5.x virtual machines, so it might be
possible with a V5.x virtual machine on Workstation
V6.x or even V5.x.)

Should also work for other devices, such scanners.
In particular, I was able to scan a picture on the
flatbed and send a fax with a header page from the computer
and the rest of the fax scanned with the automatic document
scanner using the hp LaserJet 3030.

I haven't tried any of the serial interfaces that stopped working
with Windows XP or even Windows 98 - perhaps it is time to time
to look through the many boxes of old junk^H^H^H^H treasures
that I stopped using when I moved to Windows XP.

Good job VMware!

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