December 08, 2008

Canon F50 Multipass Printer, Windows XP, and Drivers

Before explaining the enigmatic driver installation process for the Canon F50 Multipass Printer, let me share that I also have a post on the disappearing availability of the ink for the printer and what to do about it: Disappearing Canon Multipass F50 Ink Solution.

On the hunch that there are others out there who may have just as much confusion about this as I had, I'm posting to lend a hand. The question is: How do you install a Canon F50 Multipass (multifunction) printer on a Windows XP machine?

The obvious answer is that you visit the Canon website, download the drivers, install them, and install the printer. But as anyone who has had any experience with Canon knows, they can be cryptic.

MSI Wind U100

In my case, this time, I just purchased an MSI Netbook U100.

It's pretty groovy. And I needed to install my Canon F50 Multipass printer. So, I head to the Canon website to download the drivers (the USA page for Canon F50 Multipass drivers).

 

There are 2 files (as of this date) which hold some importance:

1) F30_F50_2KXP_v40.exe
2) f50udxp40en.exe

The first of those is the suite of software which comes with the printer and seems to be necessary for its operation (including a status monitor): Canon MultiPASS Suite 4.00 for Windows 2000/XP. (Date: 9/26/2007)

The second is, apparently, a driver update tool (but not the driver itself): F50 MP Driver Ver. 4.0 updater (Windows XP/2000). (Date: 4/23/2008)

So where is the driver? If you've never before had the Canon printer on your system, then the driver isn't already in your database and you're going to be asking this question when you run those programs. If you run the driver updater, it says that your system doesn't need to be updated. If you run the suite installer, it tells you that it can't find your printer and that you need to plug it in first. If you plug in your printer to the USB port, Windows will search for a driver and not find one. The suite software then tells you that it cannot install because the printer isn't installed. So, if you're like me, you'll go searching all over the Canon site looking for the drivers. I even went back and found my original driver disk, but it came out before XP so I didn't bother with it (especially since netbooks, like the one I was installing the printer on, don't have CD-ROM drives).

The solution is this: Canon, in all of their timeless wisdom, packed the driver into the software suite installation file. So when you run that file, it unpacks a bunch of stuff before launching the installation software. In my case (as in most cases) it unpacked its contents into the C:\TEMP directory. The key is to plug in the printer and, when you have the opportunity, tell the hardware wizard to search for drivers from a specific location. At that point, you use the dialogue window to browse to your TEMP directory, find the suite installation files, look for the USB directory, find the Windows 2000 driver folder, and tell the hardware wizard to look in that folder for the drivers. In my case, it was this directory:

C:\Temp\F30_F50_2KXP_v40\USBDrv\Win2k\Disk1

Then the hardware installation wizard will install the printer using those drivers. After that, you run the second of the two files above - the driver update utility. Once you've done that, you install the software suite.

What was Canon thinking by hiding the drivers? Maybe they're hoping that you'll give up and go buy a new Canon printer. I've already seen reports that they will not be creating Vista drivers for the Canon F50 Multipass multifunction printer. Who knows? This may also explain why the ink for the printer is disappearing off of the shelves. (But here's a solution to the Canon Multipass F50 Ink problem.)

Posted by Jeff at 01:47 AM | Comments (11)