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Why can't I print on my wireless network?

I have a working wireless network, except when it comes to printing from a Windows application on a Win98SE machine.

One system is a WinXP Home OS, connected by Linksys USB wireless to a Linksys wireless router. The other is a Win98SE OS connected by Linksys wireless USB to the same router. The printer is an Okidata ML 390 connected to the XP system's LPT1 port.

I can share files both ways on this network. I can even print to this printer from the 98SE machine in DOS mode. The problem occurs when I use MS Word to print a file. I get a printer error "USER INTERVENTION REQUIRED. Use printer offline." I have tried unchecking printer offline and get this message: "Cannot connect to this network printer. Make sure that the network is working and that the share exists." I am baffled as to why I can print remotely from DOS on the 98 SE machine and not from a Windows application.

From what you describe, the Win98 SE PC can view and share files located on the WinXP PC, but it cannot access the shared printer on that PC.

I would first look at the printer's configuration on the XP PC to make sure that Win98 SE printer drivers are installed (on the XP PC), and that permissions allow the Win98 user to access the WinXP printer. For example, select the printer from the WinXP Printers control panel, and pick the Sharing tab, then click Additional Drivers and make sure that Win98 is present and checked. If you do not spot the problem, you may wish to delete and re-add the WinXP printer so that XP and 98 drivers are re-installed.

Then look at the Win98 system's Network control panel, examining the Client for Windows Networks and Printer and File Sharing properties to make sure that both file and printer sharing are enabled. Try using the "nbtstat" command from an MS-DOS window inside Win98 to learn more information about what Windows can actually view and access on the XP PC.

Finally, these hints from Microsoft are not directly related to shared printers, but may be worth consideration: "If you can print from a command prompt but not from any Windows-based program, there may be a problem with the spool settings or with bi-directional communication. To determine if this is the cause of your issue:

1. Click Start, point to Settings, and then click Printers.
2. Right-click the printer you are trying to print to and then click Properties.
3. Click the Details tab, click Spool Settings, then click the Print Directly To The Printer.
4. If your printer supports bi-directional communication, click Disable bi-directional support.
5. Click OK, and then click OK again to close Print Properties.
6. Try to print from Notepad or WordPad.
7. If you can print from Notepad or WordPad, try different combinations of spool settings and bi-directional support until you find a combination that works."

Other Microsoft Knowledge Base entries that may help you:

  • How to Troubleshoot Network Printing Problems
  • Troubleshoot Printing Problems in Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows ME
  • This was last published in October 2005

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