The problem was first noticed. when users noticed 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 or clean-installed Windows.
Windows Latest said the latest update for Windows 10 and 11 seems to think that people's printers are an HP LaserJet model. It's believed that the bug appeared after HP pushed its latest metadata to Windows Update, but something went wrong in the code and caused other printers to be labelled as HP LaserJet printers.
A key part of Windows Update is keeping third-party drivers and devices updated, including downloading any apps that the devices depend. After the printer metadata incorrectly identified everyone's printers as HP LaserJet printers, Windows installed the software needed for an HP printer to work smoothly, including the HP Smart App.
Fortunately, the bug only affects the printer’s metadata. While the printer may show up with a different name on your system, you should still can send print jobs to it. Microsoft has since removed the faulty 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.
Meanwhile there might be a good reason not to have HP connected to your PC. The company has been proudly telling investors that its subscription model is "locking" in people.
HP chief financial officer Marie Myers told the UBS Global Technology conference: "We absolutely see when you move a customer from that pure transactional model ... whether it's Instant Ink, plus adding on that paper, we see a 20 per cent uplift on the value of that customer because you're locking that person, committing to a longer-term relationship."
Instant Ink is a subscription in which ink or toner cartridges are dispatched when needed, with customers paying for plans that start at $0.99 and run to $25.99 per month. As of May, last year, HP had more than 11 million subscribers to the service. Since then, it has banked double-digit percentage figures on the revenues front.
By pre-pandemic 2019, HP had grown weary of third-party cartridge makers stealing its supplies business. It pledged to charge more upfront for certain printer hardware ("or as it said, it rebalanced the system profitability, capturing more profit up front").