Norene from Bakersfield, Ca is struggling with keeping her old technology up with her new technology.  She writes “I have both iPAd & windows 8.1. To my surprise my printer is not compatible with 8.1. I was told that my only options were to buy a new one or reset to eliminate 8.1 , which would erase 8.1 that includes all emails. To buy another printer, which is expensive with the cost of cartridges . Also, how can I even know what else is compatible?”

Hi, Norene.  Thanks for the great question.  I’m sure that you’re not the only one of our readers struggling with trying to make your older hardware work with new systems.  Of course, I’m just assuming that the printer is “older”, which is, I realize, a relative term where computers and peripherals are involved.

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Here’s the struggle that we all face when it comes to our technology… obsolescence.  Back when the computer above was still in use, each computer manufacturer would make peripherals for its own computer, and no one else.  The one above was made for the Commodore 64.  So there was no problem with obsolescence and no problem with keeping your computer updated.  The idea of a new operating system was science fiction.  I faced this myself about a hundred and sixty seven years ago.  When I had Windows 3.1, I bought a scanner for my computer that I absolutely loved.  I didn’t use it for much, but I loved the idea of just having something that could scan pictures into my computer.  If I remember correctly, it cost me about $200 new.  When I upgraded to Windows 95, no problem.  Windows 98?  Big problem.

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The manufacturer was phasing/had phased this particular scanner out and they were not making a driver for 98.  So basically my beloved scanner became a paperweight.  It’s just the way that technology works.

One thing that I’d like to say here is “don’t blame Microsoft”.  Trust me.  I’m ready to blame Microsoft for just about anything after my experiences with them over the last couple of years, but they can’t be blamed for manufacturers not producing new drivers for their devices.  It all comes down to good old supply and demand.  As the demand for a device drops and the device stops selling, ultimately the manufacturer is just going to stop supporting it.  It becomes no longer worth the money that they put in to it.

Here comes the dumb question… are you saying that it’s not compatible with 8.1 because the manufacturer TOLD you that it’s not compatible with 8.1, or just because you’re having problems with it?  And don’t believe anyone else, either, especially anyone with a vested interest in selling a new printer to you.  If you’re just having issues with it, or someone else told you that it’s not compatible, contact the manufacturer and find out if they have an updated driver.  I would recommend doing a web search, but getting past all of the folks out there who want to sell drivers to you is a nightmare.  Contact the manufacturer.

Now, let’s say that worse comes to worst and your printer is, in fact, functionally obsolete.  It happens.  Give it away, donate it, sell it to a modern artist for $20.  Whatever.  The good news is that printers are not all that expensive these days.  You’re right, though… they do get you with the ink but not nearly as bad as it used to be.  You can buy the same printer that I have on Amazon for less than $100, and that includes wireless printing through your home network.  And the really good news is that the dual-pack of ink cartridges, color and black, sells for about $35.  If that’s still stretching the budget, which I fully understand, there are places out there that will refill your ink cartridges for you, or sell you a refilled cartridge for way less.  Make sure that it’s someone reputable, though.  A badly refilled ink cartridge can ruin your printer.

So, there you go.  Sorry about your printer, but you do still have options.  Be sure to check with the manufacturer for a new driver before doing anything else, though.

I hope that this helps!

~Randal Schaffer