Too many people seem to be having a problem connecting their Vista laptops to Windows XP-connected printers. It took me a while to get the steps right, but I believe this should help anyone else who has been similarly vexed.

Here’s a default configuration:

  • Existing Windows XP desktop with USB attached printer
  • New Windows Vista laptop

To network the laptop to the desktop printer, you need to do the following:

  1. Gather computer information
  2. Install printer drivers on Windows Vista
  3. Install LLTD on Windows XP
  4. Set up printer sharing on Windows XP
  5. Establish Vista user on Windows XP
  6. Add the network printer to Windows Vista

Step 1. Gather the required information

In Vista, click Start, right-click Computer, and select Properties. Scroll down until you locate the Computer name and the Workgroup name. Write both down.

In XP, click Start, right-click My Computer, and select Properties. Click the Computer Name tab.  Write down the name of the Workgroup.

You must use the same workgroup name, so change one of the computers.  Afterwards, you must restart the computer.

Step 2. Install printer drivers in Windows Vista

Unplug the USB cable from your Windows XP desktop. Download the appropriate drivers to your Vista laptop and start the installation. Don’t connect the USB cable until directed.  Print a test page to make sure everything works.

Step 3. Install LLTD on Windows XP

Download and install a Microsoft file that allows you to see your XP desktop on your Vista network.  Use the following link:

Step 4. Set up printer sharing

In the XP Control Panel, select Printers and Faxes. Right click the printer you want Vista to use and select Properties. Click the Sharing tabe and select “Share this printer.”  Make a note of what Windows calls the printer; you can change it if you wish.

Step 5. Create a new Windows XP user

To use the printer, Windows Vista needs access to the Windows XP controlled device.  So, you have to create a user with the associated privileges.

In the XP Control Panel, select User Accounts. Click the Create a new account link and enter the user name that you use on your Vista laptop. Click Next. On the next screen, take the default option and make this user an Administrator. Click Create Account and close the open windows.

Step 6. Add the network Printer to Windows Vista

On the Vista laptop, open the Control Panel and select Printers.  Click the “Add a Printer” button at the top of the page.  Select “Add a local printer.”  Select the “Create a new port” radio button and leave the drop-down menu on the default.

A small window will open for you to enter the port name, which is in the form of \\computername\printername (you wrote down the computer name in Step 1).

Select the manufacturer and printer from the list and keep the existing drivers.  You can set the name of the printer and print a test page to ensure that this process works.

I hope this post helps anyone else who might be struggling with the same problem.  Please let me know if this has helped you, or if there is anything I may have overlooked.