Is your old program or device compatible with Windows 7?

This morning’s e-mail brings a reader question I get a lot lately:

Do you know of a list anywhere that spells out what hardware drivers ship with Win 7? One of the frustrations with PC makers is that they don’t upgrade the drivers for printers and other hardware when a new OS ships. I think my HP Deskjet 6620 is not supported in Win 7 so now I can’t take advantage of the new OS. Any help would be great.

The short answer is yes, there is such a resource. It’s called the Windows 7 Compatibility Center, and it allows you to search for both software and hardware to determine whether it is certified to work with Windows 7. Crucially, you can search to confirm support for both 32-bit and 64-bit versions.

But it’s a good news/bad news situation. The good news is that if you find a device that is reported as compatible, you can have a very high degree of confidence that it will work properly. The bad news, at least temporarily, is that the index is still incomplete. Here’s what I saw when I asked whether my trusty old Fujitsu ScanSnap fi-5110EO scanner from 2005 would run on Windows 7 x64 (it’s at the bottom of this list):

Windows 7 Compatility Center results

The 64-bit page should confirm Fujitsu’s definitive announcement that they have no intention of supporting this device under Vista or Windows 7. The 32-bit page appears to be more helpful, ostensibly confirming that the device is supported and even including links to pages where I could get more information and drivers. Except those links led me to a generic Fujitsu Windows 7 page intended for purchasers of new Fujitsu PCs. I had to stumble around blindly to finally discover the Windows Vista (not Windows 7) update from 2007 that enables this device.  (I’m actually using the scanner in Windows XP Mode on my desktop PC running Windows 7 Professional.)

For what it’s worth, printers and scanners are, in my experience, the worst offenders in this regard. The older they are, the more likely you will be unable to use them and the more cautious you should be when considering an upgrade.

9 thoughts on “Is your old program or device compatible with Windows 7?

  1. In contrast, if your printer communicated with the PC via a standard language (PCL or Postscript), then you survived the Vista transition unscathed.

    Ancient HP Laserjets, old IBM/Lexmarks with PCL emulation, all tended to work using generic drivers on Vista. I even had an ancient NEC dot-matrix that worked fine on Vista (in Epson emulation mode).

  2. Sometimes you can “fiddle” INF files for different model scanners, so you can use later model drivers with an earlier model device. If you want to invest the time involved.

    Or use your suggestion of Windows XP mode, which seems like a great idea for the small amount of scanning I do (10 scans a week).

  3. Scanners do seem to be the worst offenders. Case in point I have a perfectly serviceable Canon LiDE 80 flat bed scanner. But the issue is 64 bit vs. 32 bit driver support. The Canon Web site has a 32 bit Windows 7 driver for this scanner. But with Dual and Quad Core processors the norm, why no 64 bit drivers? I ended up buying a new Canon LiDE 200 (Which does have 32 & 64 bit support)

    Another frustrating issue is Windows Server 2003 & 2008 servers as printer servers. Say you have a printer server (32 bit) and want to serve a mix of 32 & 64 bit clients. (Which you will of course have as new hardware and Win 7 upgrades migrate across your corporate desktop PCs) Now Windows Server OS will accommodate (host) multiple drivers for any given printer. But try to load a 64 bit driver unto a 32 bit machine, even if the intent is just to service 64 bit workstation clients… A workaround is to have your 32 bit clients point to the Windows servers and you 64 bit clients point directly to the printers. (Direct IP connection) Kind of defeats the purpose of a printer server though…

  4. With many of the HP scanners/printers I’ve had pretty good luck with choosing an older driver that IS supported under Win7 to get the machine to work. Just recently had to get a deskjet 2600 (or similar model) to work by using the old 990c driver. Sure, they lose some controls but in the end the printer works.

  5. I have several year old HiTi Photo Printer, not exactly mainstream. Guess what, it works fine with Windows 7 using the old Vista drivers!! You can call me surprised but pleased.

  6. @Spasse:
    I would have said Canon were a good vendor until I saw your comment. I’ve never had a problem with Canon drivers, until you mentioned 64-bit support :-(.

    As far as Windows 32-bit print servers go, Microsoft claims it’s easy ( I suspect my mileage will vary …

    Arghhhh! Windows 7 doesn’t have my favorite “works with everything” laser printer driver, the HP Laserjet II. Sure, there is a workaround (, but gee, the Laserjet II driver was simple enough to work with everything postscript.

  7. dmccall’s tip about using the S300 (portable version of the S510 scanner) is what I’ve found too. I ran both the 32 bit and 64 bit Win 7 Beta and RC and found the 32 bit version would run most things while the 64 bit was fussier. So I’m upgrading to 32 bit win 7 on my notebook (HP tx1000 with 2 gigs) and 64 bit on my core 2 duo desktop with 8 gigs. If you have only 1 computer or something just wont run on Win 7 32 bit than XP mode sounds the way to go for older hardware. XP mode is only available on Win 7 professional or above.

  8. I have always been a strong supporter of Canon and it’s printer products until I tried to get a 64 bit driver for my two year old LBP 3000 laser printer. According to Canon they have no plans to produce a 64 bit driver for this otherwise great little laser printer. Does anyone have a solution that will work?

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