NT 4.0 Printer Driver is Not Compatible with a Policy Enabled in Windows Vista PC

When you try to connect a shared printer in Windows Vista or earlier versions, you may receive the following error message, “The printer driver is not compatible with a policy enabled on your computer that blocks NT 4.0 drivers”. This guide shows you how to fix this certain issue and install the shared printer.

This problem mostly occurs when you try to connect the old printer with old print drivers from Windows Vista PC. Windows Vista does not support ‘kernel-mode printer drivers’ for installation.

Windows Vista supports ‘user mode printer drivers’ only, Microsoft explains it here.

So, if the Windows NT 4.0-based computer which is sharing the printer is having the ‘User mode printer drivers’ or Windows Vista can map for the user-mode printer during the installation, then the printer driver installation will be succeeded. Otherwise, it fails with the “The printer driver is not compatible with a policy enabled on your computer that blocks NT 4.0 drivers” message.

How to Install NT 4.0 Printer Drivers in Vista

As mentioned in the error message ‘policy enable on your computer that blocks NT 4.0 drivers’ hence we can disable the policy on Windows Vista computer.

Follow the steps to disable NT4.0 drivers policy

Though disabling this policy can be done by modifying the registry, but it is easy and recommended to do via MMC GUI. In a larger network environment, these types of changes can be done at the Group policy level if you need to implement this change in multiple computers.

1) Go to Run (or Start Search) type ‘mmc’, press Enter. Continue for UAC.

2) Click on File and Add/Remove Snap-In, as shown below.

Printer driver not compatible vista

3) Select ‘Group Policy Object Editor’ in the left side and Press Add Button.

Printer driver not compatible vista

Leave Local Computer in Next screen and Click Finish and OK.

4) Then Expand to ‘Local Computer Policy’ -> Computer Configuration -> Administrative Templates and click on Printers.

Printer driver not compatible vista

5) Look for “Disallow installation of Printers using kernel-mode divers” on the right side and double click on it.

6) Select Disable and Press OK. Close the console also.

Printer driver not compatible vista

After disabled this policy to allow NT 4.0 kernel-mode printer drivers, your Windows Vista computer can have older driver network shared printers.

Note:  Be prepared to receive Blue screen error on your Vista computer after this policy enabled.

I hope you will be not using Windows Vista anymore since even Windows 7 is reaching the end of life. But if you are still using for some specific requirements, then this guide will be useful to solve and install printers that require kernel-mode drivers.

Dinesh is the founder of Sysprobs and written more than 400 articles. Enthusiast in Microsoft and cloud technologies with more than 15 years of IT experience.

12 thoughts on “NT 4.0 Printer Driver is Not Compatible with a Policy Enabled in Windows Vista PC”

  1. very good article, but there is a problem, but will not work with windows vista home premium: the group policy editor is not available, neither can user control, which would provide an indirect path to it be installed. Any suggestions on how to bypass this?

  2. You can disallow it manually by adding:

    [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows NT\Printers]

    to the registry (Win+R, run regedit).

    But it doesn’t work on my Vista Business (original on the Lenovo R500 notebook)… Still the same error after trying both allowing, disallowing and not applying the rule and several reboots (for each option)… Any suggestions?

  3. Sad but it is Microsoft! what should we expect? I simply don’t understand why they keep shooting themselves on the foot….make their product so complicated where one can not find info readily available. I have been sitting in front of my lap top to simply add a printer and been to sites trying to find why vista would not allow me to add a printer….I still have not been able to do it. The above info is good but dose not apply to my version of vista….I hope there will be another platform (OS) that is not window!

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  5. sounded like a good solution to my problem with this trying to install a Lexmark x6575 wireles printer. However Vista Home premuim , does have the gpedit, the mmc/console or the registery entries required for the fix.

    I have tried installing later drivers from the microsft site but these install and seem to work at first but after putting the print job in the queue , then submittin git to 100% completion, then clearing the queue notprintouts emerge to the printer, not sure where they ended up but perhaps some heavenly body has my daughters homework !

    So until I can find a fix, its going to and from with memory sticks :O/

  6. Thanks for taking the time to post this.

    I was going to do this work around, then opted for MS’s “method 2” noted here: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/282011. Was easy and worked like a charm on my super-old (1995) printer connected to our home print server.

    In response to the person that noted MS is shooting themselves in the foot, they policy is this way by design so that the blue screen errors don’t occur. I’m not MS fan, to be honest, but I do appreciate not receiving the BSOD.

  7. You had some nice factors right here. I done a research on the topic and got most individuals will trust your site.

  8. Can’t get this to work for Hotfax Message Center 5 fax printer driver in either Vista Ultimate or Win 7 Ultimate, no matter what I try.
    I always get ‘blocked by a policy setting’, even when trying to map it to the Vista machine as a network printer hosted on a XP machine 🙁

    I did note that the required key was generated/removed in the registry as I disabled/enabled/not configured the policy setting in mmc.

    Many thanks though for describing the mmc tool, it’s opened up a bevy of tweaks!! 🙂

  9. I have an old Lexmark 73X printer, my PC with Windows Vista doe not except the printer,ERROR , blocks NT 4.0 Drivers. Any solution, please help, grateful.

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