Vista is painfully slow at printing to networked devices. This is particularly onerous on me, as I am working on a documentation project that involves some 400 commands. I am using documentation software that has to run on Vista, and it takes a long time to print sets of pages as I complete commands for my copy editor to check.
I wondered: did the problem lay with Vista? To learn the answer, I tested the print speed between my brand-new $400 Asus Eee 4G notebook computer running Xandros Linux on 512KB RAM, and my nearly-year-old $1200 HP tx1220 notebook computer running Vista Home Premium with SP1 on 2GB RAM.
The setups are similar:
- Print using Acrobat Reader.
- Print a page of mixed elements: black text, graphics, shaded text, and linework.
- Print over the network to the same HP LaserJet printer.
The only difference is that the HP notebook uses the latest update of the LaserJet 1320 printer driver written for Vista by HP, while the Asus uses the generic LaserJet printer driver written for Linux by OpenPrinting, a third-party foundation.
Here are the results:
Time to Display Print Dialog Box
- Vista = 31 seconds.
- Linux = 0 seconds (instant).
Time to Display Print Preference Dialog Box
- Vista = 38 seconds
- Linux = 0 seconds (instant)
Time for Page to Land in Output Tray
- Vista = 156 seconds
- Linux = 22 seconds
- Vista = 3 minutes 45 seconds
- Linux = 22 seconds
At least Vista is not as slow as the first time I experienced printing over a PC network. While I was technical editor at CADalyst magazine, a local reseller offered to install a 3COM network for free. If we liked the network, we could keep it and then pay for it. It seemed like a no-lose situation, but it ended up being lose-lose. Once installed, it took roughly a half-hour for the first page to appear in our central laser printer. During that half hour, the computer appeared to be locked-up. The reseller couldn't figure out the problem, ripped out the network, and we went back to walking floppy diskettes to the XT-class computer that babysat the laser printer.
That was 20 years ago. It's good to see that Vista is nearly 10x faster than that 3COM network which attempted to service our computers, all of which ran DOS and were limited to 640KB RAM + a few MB of extended/expanded memory.
But some things never change. Just as that 3COM network frozen computers for the duration of the half-hour-long print job, Vista also locks up the app for the 30 or so seconds it takes to display the Print dialog box. Progress it ain't.