A Windows Update bug is renaming everyone’s printers to HP M101-M106

The reason behind the strange HP Smart App installations has finally been found.

Key Takeaways

  • Recent Windows update mistakenly identifies all printers as HP LaserJet models, causing the unwanted installation of the HP Smart App.
  • The bug only affects printer metadata, and print jobs can still be sent to the printer despite the incorrect name.
  • Microsoft has removed the faulty metadata from Windows Update, and a future update will fix the problem.

A few days ago, we spotted that the HP Smart App was being installed on people’s PCs without their consent. Even worse, the app would reappear if users tried to uninstall it or clean-installed Windows. Now, the cause has finally been identified: a recent Windows 10 and 11 update is renaming everyone’s printers to “HP LaserJet M101-M106” regardless of what model it actually is.

Windows Update’s strange printer bug

As reported on Windows Latest, the latest update for Windows 10 and 11 seems to think that people’s printers are an HP LaserJet model, regardless of their actual brand. It’s believed that the bug appeared after HP pushed its latest metadata to Windows Update, but something went awry in the code and caused other printers to be labeled as HP LaserJet printers.

This explains why the HP Smart App has been sneaking onto people’s computers without their consent. A key part of Windows Update is keeping third-party drivers and devices updated, including downloading any apps that the devices depend on. After the printer metadata incorrectly identified everyone’s printers as HP LaserJet printers, Windows installed all the software needed for an HP printer to work smoothly, including the HP Smart App.

Fortunately, the bug only affects the metadata for the printer. While the printer may show up with a different name on your system, you should still be able to send print jobs to it. Microsoft has since removed the fault metadata from Windows Update, so anyone performing a clean install from now on should get their original printer’s name back and stop the HP Smart App from re-downloading.

If you’re not keen on performing a clean install just to reset a printer’s name, Microsoft should be releasing an update in the future that corrects this problem. And if all this is too much hassle, you can always grab a portable printer for phones and skip all the mess.

UPDATE: 2023/12/08 13:53 EST BY SIMON BATT

Microsoft states that HP isn’t to blame for strange printer bug

After being left confused as to what could be causing this problem, Microsoft went into an in-depth search for why printers were getting labeled as HP models. At first, it was speculated that the bug arose when HP updated its printer drivers on the Windows Update database, and somehow the metadata “leaked out” onto other printers. However, after doing a thorough check on what might be causing the issue, Microsoft confirmed that HP was, in fact, not at fault.

Microsoft made a statement on Windows Learn (via Neowin) where it keeps track of all the known bugs affecting Windows users. In its statement, Microsoft shared what it has discovered in its investigation:

Note: Our investigations indicate that this issue is not caused by an HP update. In most cases, it should be possible to use the 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.

As the symptoms are related to the automatic installation of the HP Smart app, Windows devices which do not have access to the Microsoft Store are not expected to be affected by this issue.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Microsoft has found a fix for this problem just yet, as the bug still has an “investigating” tag. The Redmond tech giant does recommend that if this Windows update has limited how you can use your printer, you should get in contact with them via Microsoft Support. Until then, affected users’ only option is to hang tight and wait for Microsoft to fix this mysterious bug.

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