It’s rare I have praise for a Microsoft product, but tonight I have to share my successful experience using the default scanning functionality of Windows 7. The fact that I had to resort to using Windows7 on my Netbook is less a reflection on Apple as it is a poor reflection on HP which has failed to update their PSC 1350 product software in a timely fashion.

Thankfully this doesn’t happen too often, but this afternoon I found myself frustrated by a series of problems relating to scanning a document. Our family owns a HP PSC 1350 “All in One” printer / copier / scanner, and we’ve been generally pleased with its performance over the years. For some reason, however, HP has NOT updated the scanning software available for the PSC 1350 since Apple released OS 10.6 (“Snow Leopard”) in August this year. Since the default Apple “Image Capture” application will not work for some reason with this HP scanner, I’m still unable to use the scanning functionality of the device with any of the updated Mac computers in our home.

That fact alone is pretty frustrating, but today the situation was made worse by the fact I couldn’t get my virtualized versions of Windows XP to install and run the HP scanning software. I have an older version of Parallels for Mac, and the last time I had to scan a document (several weeks ago) I downloaded and used a trial version of the newer version of Parallels (required for use with Mac OS 10.6) to use HP scanning software. I have a still-functioning version of VMware Fusion as well, however, so today (because I didn’t want to pay $ to upgrade Parallels just to scan a single document) I tried to use my copy of VMWare. I hadn’t used it in awhile, so Windows wanted to install 61 new updates.

Microsoft Windows XP - 61 updates found

I skipped these updates for the time being, and just tried to download and install the HP drivers for my PSC 1350. The full software and driver installation package is over 300 MB, and sadly my small (10 GB) partition for my virtualized version of WinXP is running out of disk space. You’d think it would be a simple process to shut down the virtualized WinXP installation and simply increase the size of the virtual disk– but it’s not that simple with XP. VMWare lets users increase the size of a virtual drive, but it’s a pretty complex process to run a separate Windows program to resize the partition. I did not want to mess with such ridiculousness, so when I was on the edge of giving up on this simple task… just scanning a document… I remembered my Netbook running the Windows 7 release client.

According to HP’s instructions, the core faxing functionality of Windows 7 supports the PSC 1350 once a driver has been recognized, downloaded and installed. I plugged my HP PSC 1350 into my netbook running Win7, and eventually (it took a few minutes for some reason) it recognized that it needed to download a HP series 1300 driver. After that driver installed, I selected the included “Windows Fax and Scan” program from the START menu, under ALL PROGRAMS.

Windows7: Windows Fax and Scan

I next clicked NEW SCAN, and TIFF as my output format. The program did the rest.

SS-2009-11-21_21.29.14

I saved to the desktop, emailed it to myself, and was finished with my scan job. Back on my Mac, I used the built-in “Preview” application to convert the scanned TIFF to a PDF, and then saved that PDF to a folder along with 3 other PDFs I’d created on Friday. I then used Combine PDFs (freeware) to merge all four PDFs into a single document I could email. Mission accomplished.

I regret I had to resort to using a Windows operating system to scan my document today, but I really didn’t know where else to turn. Until HP chooses to update the scanning software they provide for the PSC 1350, it’s useless to me as a Mac-compatible scanning device. It prints fine from our Macs, but it won’t scan.

Thankfully, Windows 7 proved to be very friendly and easy to use today, when it “scanned to the rescue.” Glad I have a netbook!

I created the above Windows7 screenshots using the free and open-source program, Zscreen, which does support direct uploads to Flickr like Skitch does. It doesn’t support screensnap annotations the way Skitch does, but it worked reasonably well and fast.

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  • romanca

    it is amazing how big windows hater you are. do you really think you can give an unbiased advice for anyone regarding technology? and back to your article about chrome os. i am looking forward to the moment, when you will use your chrome os powered netboook to scan a page on your hp psc 1350.
    disclaimer – i work for microsoft – education

  • http://www.wesfryer.com Wesley Fryer

    Romanca: I definitely would not characterize myself as a “hater” of Windows or Microsoft. I like technologies which are powerful and seamless to use. I’ve had extensive experiences working with both Windows and Macintosh platforms since the mid-1990s, so I have a reasonably good perspective on these types of platform comparisons. I haven’t updated it since 2006, but you’re welcome to read more about my historical perspective on operating systems.

    I’d love to use my scanner with my Netbook running Ubuntu, Chrome OS, or any other operating system. The idea of the Chrome OS booting in 7 seconds is fantastic.

    I’m not pretending to give unbiased advice here. Everyone is biased. I’m definitely not averse to singing praises to companies and products who deserve it, however, even when I’ve had a negative track record with them, and that’s certainly what I’m doing here. If I was a true “Windows hater” as you assert, do you think I’d be publishing a post where I’m praising the functionality of Windows 7?

    I’ll be updating my own blogging disclosure policy later this month, to provide more details about my potential biases. Mandated disclosure policies were announced by the FTC in October.

    Thanks for sharing your own disclaimer. As an employee of Microsoft’s education division, what do you think are the most innovative and empowering products that Microsoft has on the market currently for K-12 education? If there are some, I’d love to know what they are and check them out.

  • http://mguhlin.org Miguel Guhlin

    Wes, I’m surprised you didn’t hook up your scanner while running Ubuntu, whether virtualized on your Macbook or on your netbook. Xsane is a great scanner program–comes standard on Ubuntu–and would have recognized your scanner without a hitch.

    In fact, one of the reasons I switched to GNU/Linux was that I had old computers (Mac and Windows) which couldn’t connect to my scanner…now, I do ALL my scanning on UbuntuLinux.

    Take care,
    Miguel

    P.S. You’re biased towards Mac…must have been that Apple Distinguished Educator influence so long ago (grin)

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