Technologists got pretty excited about "the paperless office" in the 1980s, but the PC explosion had exactly the opposite effect. Thanks to the proliferation of inexpensive, high-quality PC printers, the world generates far more printouts than ever. Fortunately, there's not much to printing from Windows Vista.
A printer is a peripheral device—something outside of the PC—and as such, it won't work without a piece of driver software explaining the new hardware to Windows. In general, getting this driver installed is a simple process. It's described in more detail in Chapter 18; here are a few notes on the process to get you started.
If the technology gods are smiling, then installing the driver for a typical inkjet USB printer works just as described in Chapter 18: you connect the printer, turn it on, and marvel as Vista autodetects it and autoinstalls the driver, thanks to its secret cache of hundreds of printer drivers (Figure 17-1).
Figure 17-1. You got lucky. Windows dug into its own bag of included drivers and installed the correct one. Let the printing begin.
If you have a really old printer, its drivers might not be Vista-compatible. Check the manufacturer's Web site, such as www.epson.com or www.lexmark.com, or a central driver repository like www.windrivers.com, to see if there's anything newer.