Microsoft admits that HP isn’t to blame for a weird Windows 11 bug that messes with printers

Some Windows 11 (and 10) users are experiencing buggy behavior relating to their printer, and Microsoft has just acknowledged this issue, elaborating on it further.

You may recall that we previously reported on the bug and how it’s causing the HP Smart app to be installed on PCs without an HP printer – or indeed with no printer at all in some instances, causing much scratching of heads.

Actually, the issue is somewhat broader than the stealthy and unwanted installation of this HP app (from the Microsoft Store), because in some cases, Windows 11 is renaming connected printers as a specific HP model (LaserJet M101-M106) and changing icons. Furthermore, if you click on such a renamed printer, you may get an error as follows: “No tasks are available for this page.”

So, this is a bit of a thorny one to unpick, but at least Microsoft has given us information on what’s happening here (as Windows Latest noticed).

The software giant advises: “Our investigations indicate that this issue is not caused by an HP update. In most cases, it should be possible to use the [affected] printer as expected, including queueing printing jobs, as well as other features such as copy, scan, or fax.

“Printers on the device will continue to use the expected drivers for printer operations. However, this issue might affect associations with other manufacturer-supplied printer apps used to extend basic printer capabilities. If this is the case, some or all of those extended functions might not work.”

To sum up, then, this glitch shouldn’t affect the general operation of any errantly-renamed printer, but it could interfere with functionality beyond the basics, perhaps.

Microsoft tells us a further investigation is underway and that it’ll update us when new info is available.

Analysis: Metadata mix-up?

What’s going on here? Well, the problem isn’t HP’s fault, so it must be Microsoft’s issue and therefore a wrinkle in Windows 11 (and Windows 10).

Windows Latest puts forward a theory that seems reasonable, namely that a recent Windows update used incorrect metadata relating to printers which is wrongly identifying a connected printer as a specific HP model (LaserJet M101-M106). After that has happened, Windows is then pulling the HP Smart app from the Microsoft Store automatically as it thinks an HP printer is now on the system.

What about the HP Smart app being installed on PCs where a printer isn’t even connected? As Windows Latest points out, on one of their computers, the Microsoft Print to PDF icon (present on all systems) was renamed as the aforementioned LaserJet, and hence the app was downloaded. Presumably this is happening to some other folks without a printer, too.

Note that this is all theorizing, and we need to wait for Microsoft to comment before we can be sure that’s what’s going on. The good news is that if this is the case, presumably the fix won’t be too difficult to implement.

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Windows 11 suffers from a weird bug that messes with SATA SSDs and hard drives

Microsoft has confirmed that Windows 11 users are also experiencing an odd bug with SATA hard drives that has already been witnessed plaguing Windows 10 (and indeed Windows 8.1 and 7).

Neowin reports that Microsoft let us know this problem affects Windows 11 via a support document that discusses the glitch, and advises users what can be done about it.

The bug causes an internal SATA drive – this can affect both hard drives and SSDs that are installed inside your PC via a SATA connection – to be detected as removable media in the Windows taskbar, as opposed to a permanently attached drive (which, of course, it very much is).

Microsoft explains: “Whether or not a device is considered removable is determined by your system’s BIOS and how it marks the various SATA ports on the motherboard.

“The inbox driver directly inspects SATA ports and considers devices connected to those ports marked ‘external’ as removable devices. Not all storage drivers do this, which can be a potential cause for corruption or data loss.”

Analysis: A fix is available, fortunately

The good news here is that many modern systems won’t be affected by the bug, as most SSDs these days aren’t SATA – and hard drives are a piece of tech that’s on the way out, and very much doing a vanishing act.

Still, that’s not to say that there aren’t plenty of PCs out there with a SATA drive in them, even if only an old hard drive recruited into the mix for media storage duties, say.

The good news is that Microsoft provides the details of a fix in the support document. As Microsoft advises, the first thing to do is to check for a BIOS update for your motherboard. If you haven’t got the latest version, update it, and keep your fingers crossed that this may solve the issue.

If it doesn’t, or you’re already on the newest BIOS – don’t flirt with installing any beta BIOS, by the way, it’s just not worth the risk – then Microsoft outlines instructions for manually dealing with the problem here.

Note that you will have to enter a lengthy command (which pretty much looks like gobbledegook) so make sure you get this right. It’s a touch fiddly, and involves tinkering with the Registry, so a mistyped mistake could be bad news – just be very careful you type in exactly what Microsoft says in the final step (for Windows 8 or later, which obviously includes Windows 11 users).

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