Windows Server 2008 Print Services - ntprint.inf and 64-bit

Server 2008
The Good Ole’ Days

Due to some unfore­seen issues with our 2003 R2 print serv­er, I decid­ed it was about time to build up a new print serv­er.  The old print serv­er was built up by anoth­er per­son and it was nev­er very sta­ble so this was a good time to start with a clean slate.

Our old serv­er was a Dell Pow­eredge with a 32-bit proc.  This time, we are going to use our new VMWare ESX envi­ron­ment to stand up a 2008 Serv­er in 64-bit.

Every­thing went well until I got to our Dell Print­ers.  I added the 64-bit dri­vers and set­up the print­er.  All was well.  I went to the shar­ing tab in the print­er prop­er­ties to add x86 (32-bit) sup­port.  I checked the box and got an error:

Install Com­po­nents from Win­dows Media
Please pro­vide path to Win­dows media (x86 proces­sor).
Type the path where the file is locat­ed and click OK.

After search­ing around, I came across this page on Tech­net. At the very bot­tom, I found the solu­tion. Basi­cal­ly, here are the steps involved:

  1. From a 32-bit OS (I used 32-bit XP Pro)
  2. Browse to: \%servername%Printers and Fax­es
  3. Right click the print­er you want to add 32-bit sup­port to and select prop­er­ties
  4. It will tell you the 32-bit dri­vers are not installed and ask for the instal­la­tion disk. Browse to the 32-bit dri­vers and hit okay.  If you say No, you will not be able to com­plete the steps below.
  5. Once the printer’s prop­er­ties are dis­played, select the Shar­ing tab and click “Addi­tion­al Dri­vers”
  6. Check x86 and press OK
  7. Browse to the 32-bit dri­vers and it will copy the 32-bit dri­vers from the local fold­er to \%servername%print%W32X86

After get­ting past this hur­tle, I ran across it again. Except this time, the Dell dri­vers were updat­ed enough that I received a decent mes­sage:

The select­ed dri­ver must be installed remote­ly from an x86 com­put­er using Type 3 (User mode) dri­vers.

If you receive that mes­sage, it is basi­cal­ly telling you to fol­low the steps I out­lined above. It’s a bum­mer MS couldn’t have includ­ed the sub-sys­tem to sup­port the required back­ward com­pat­i­bil­i­ty often nec­es­sary in the enter­prise. At least the workaround is sim­ple enough.


  1. I have a ques­tion. I tried the above but when I go to the Win­dows XP PC the add addi­tion­al dri­ver but­ton is greyed out. I was logged in with domain cre­den­tials on the serv­er 2008 64 bit and Win­dows XP 32 bit PC. Last thing I tried was giv­ing myself full per­mis­sions to the print­er but the but­ton was still greyed out.

    The way I have been doing the instal­la­tion of the x86 print dri­vers was to export the ntprint direc­to­ry from a Win­dows 7 32 bit ver­sion to my Serv­er 2008 64 bit. That way I can add both dri­vers from Serv­er 2008 but for some rea­son this way keeps fail­ing for an HP Laser­Jet 8000 print­er.

    Any sug­ges­tions?



  2. Andrew you are a life saver. Your info. helped me install 32bit dri­vers on new print serv­er (Windows2008x64). Thank you very much.

  3. This didn’t work for me. On the XP machine it tells me “The files installed are not valid for the select­ed archi­tec­ture.” I’m try­ing to install 32 bit RICOH 4500 dri­vers onto a Serv­er 08 R2 plat­form.

  4. On the 32bit machine I browse the print­er click add addi­tion­al dri­vers when i click ok to add the addi­tion­al dri­vers I get the same error mes­sage.

    The select­ed dri­ver must be installed remote­ly from an x86 com­put­er using Type 3 (user mode) dri­vers”

  5. I don’t get the first step. How does one “browse” to %servername%Printers and Fax­es??? Sor­ry if I’m dense.

    Per­haps you mean:
    Start / Run
    %servername%Printers and Fax­es ??
    Well, actu­al­ly, I got it to work to a point by doing this:
    Start / Run %server­name%
    Then when the serv­er opens up, Print­ers and Fax­es is show­ing on the list of items.
    But when I fol­low the instruc­tions giv­en there­after, the first thing that hap­pens is:
    “The [print­er] dri­ver is not installed on this com­put­er.…. install the dri­ver now? Yes/No”
    If one says Yes then an install hap­pens (some­where) on the XP 32 sys­tem using a down­loaded dri­ver .inf file that I have to point to…
    Then, try­ing it again, the same thing hap­pens. If one selects “No”, then open­ing the print­er any­way and the Shar­ing tab shows the Addi­tion­al Dri­vers grayed out.

    In this com­put­er I was able to add the X86 dri­ver on the Win 7 machine print­er install by doing a text edit of the name in the .inf file … which seems a pret­ty com­mon need. And, in this case I didn’t get the need for:
    “Please pro­vide a path to Win­dows medio (x86 proces­sor)”

  6. Step 6 gives no browse func­tion to point to the install directory’s where I have my W32 dri­vers. It just gives an error and quits..

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