There's been of a buzz lately about the announcement that Microsoft has added an API to Windows 8.1 to support 3D printers, with early support already announced for MakerBot and FormLabs printers.
This is a good thing. Even if the first API's are incomplete and imperfect, having some kind of a widely distributed standard will help to lower the amount of fragmentation and compatibility problems that would frustrate regular users.
Power users may object that these standards might perhaps over-simplify the printing process -- but that's precisely the point -- make the simple 'everyday' print jobs a no-brainer task. After all, when was the last time you really tweaked each and every setting of a print job you sent to your inkjet paper printer?
As with many things with the 3D printing world, a look back at the early days of the personal computers and the early days of personal printers are full of relevant histoy lessons. We take automated (paper) printer driver installation and configuration for granted these days -- but the dark ages of setting up printers without standardized drivers are still fresh in the minds of many people who set up computers in the PC DOS era or before. Simply put, if you didn't have the right software paired with the right printer, you may well have been simply out of luck, unable to print anything useful.
So, whatever the implementation details, I'm glad Microsoft has taken this step. Even if it's a classic Microsoft "1.0" product release, it'll be a great start toward a "2.0" release that will lower the bar to 3D printing for everybody.
Microsoft Hands 3-D Printing Its Biggest Boost Ever