Technical Blog - Windows ports and Pcounter configuration

Friday, 13th May, 2016

Web Services for Devices Port Monitor and Print Management Applications.

More and more home and SOHO printers are using the WSD port monitor as the preferred connection for print and scan, especially those being used over wireless networks. You may have spotted a port in your printer properties area labelled WSD, with a description of WSD port (fig a).

(fig a)

Or possibly one that looks like a mishmash of letters and numbers accompanied by a proprietary manufacturer’s monitoring tool (fig b).
In this instance it’s created by a bespoke software application from the device manufacturer.

(fig b)

Fine for standard home use, but not so easy for print control applications that use printer spool files for job information.

How does it work:
The WSD Port Monitor is a printer port monitor included Windows Server 2008 onwards. This port monitor supports printing to network devices that are designed
to include Web Services for Devices (WSD) technology. WSD allows network-connected IP-based devices to advertise their functionality and offer these services to clients by using the Web Services protocol.

WSD-based devices and clients communicate over the network using a series of SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) messages over UDP and HTTP(S). WSD for Devices provides a network plug-and-play experience that is similar to installing a USB device. WSD also defines a security profile that may be extended to provide additional protection and authentication using device-based certificates.

On Windows Server 2008 onward, the port monitor is installed along with the Print Services server role.  WSD is not available for Windows Server 2003. For WSD-based print devices, the WSD Port Monitor is used by default. If the print device does not support the WSD Port Monitor, then the Standard TCP/IP Port Monitor is used instead.

So in effect, WSD replaces the TCP protocol functionality and uses the IP protocol connectivity.
We are so accustomed to TCP/IP being used together we forget sometimes they are two separate protocols and can function separately. IP protocol is like a house address for “where did a letter get sent from” and “where is it going”. TCP protocol is like sending a letter requiring a signature for receipt request and automatically sending the letter again if you don't get the receipt signature.

WSD replaces the TCP functions with its own delivery controls.

To use WSD you MUST supply the IP address or allow it to pick up an address from a DHCP server. In addition, because it uses TCP as a fall-back when WSD is not working correctly, TCP protocol should also be set up for the printer. WSD devices will try to use WSD and IP; if it isn't working it will try TCP and IP to transfer the data & print jobs from the PC to the printer.You should be able to find the IP address of the device by opening a command prompt, and pinging the host name.

In general it is better for Print management software such as Pcounter to use the TCP port rather than the WSD port. Configuration and troubleshooting are far easier to handle. However, it is still possible to use WSD ports in Pcounter.

Pcounter & WSD ports:
V2.70 onward of Pcounter supports WSD. The process recommended is to set up the printer using the manufacturer’s guidelines and allow it to configure its own WSD port.
Ensure that printing works correctly before beginning the Pcounter setup.

Setting up Pcounter with a WSD port:
Below you will see a typical WSD port that was created via an HP printer tool

Next, run the Pcounter port conversion process. Open the Pcounter Configuration Window, select the Printers option, and in the View Printers window, select Non-Pcounter. Highlight the printer you want to convert to a Pcounter port, right click, and select Port wizard.

Select “Create a new Pcounter Port”
Choose a name for the port, Use the protocol: OtherPrinter. And finally save the settings.

You can now configure the Printer for pricing, rules, and policies, as required.

I do hope you have found this blog helpful but if you do have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact us at solutions@ait.co.uk or call us on 0113 273 0300.

By Trevor Atkins, Technical Solutions Specialist