Shortly after GAGEpack 9.0 was released last fall, we began to get calls from users who were having trouble printing labels after upgrading to the new version. Naturally, our GAGEpack development team grew concerned, and launched an investigation to track down the problem and resolve it. Our findings surprised us.
After talking with users who were experiencing these problems and doing a hefty bit of testing internally, we were eventually able to isolate the trouble to those systems that were using all three of these components: GAGEpack 9.0, Windows XP, and Brother printers. Any user running a different version of GAGEpack, a different version of Windows, or a different type of printer would have no label problems at all.
This was an extremely peculiar conclusion, because we knew that each of those three components will work correctly on its own or combined with just one of the others. If GAGEpack 9.0 works fine with Windows XP and it works fine with a Brother printer, why do we see problems when GAGEpack 9.0 tries to work with both Windows XP and a Brother printer at the same time? It was quite a mystery. Our tech sleuths were all over it.
As it turns out, the trouble lies with the drivers that Brother has published to enable their printers to communicate with Windows XP. These drivers were last updated in March 2002. In software terms, they are ancient. This was not a problem in GAGEpack 8.5 because every version of GAGEpack released since the early 1990s had been written in Microsoft’s VB6 programming language. However, VB6 has been officially unsupported as a software development language since March 2008. GAGEpack 9.0 is written in the new VB.net, which was extremely young and not commonly used the last time the Brother Windows XP printer drivers were updated.
Windows XP is going to be around until at least April 2014, and we hope that Brother will update its antiquated drivers before then. In the meantime, if you are a GAGEpack 9.0 user struggling with this problem, we offer two solutions. The first option is to upgrade your operating system to a newer version of Windows. Windows Vista and Windows 7 both work great with the label printing. If you decide to go that route, I recommend Windows 7, for reasons far too numerous to discuss here. The second option is to replace your label printer. During our testing on this issue, we purchased a Dymo printer to replace the Brother p-touch that we’ve been using for many years. The new Dymo hasn’t given us any trouble.
Based on these findings, we’re recommending non-Brother printers to our customers who may be in the market for replacement printers.