Monday, September 18, 2006

HOW TO: Install Mustek A3 USB Scanner in Microsoft Windows Vista

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Thanks to all the readers who've sent me comments via e-mail. Please note that an updated version of this workaround is now available here!

As I mentioned in my previous post, I'm now in the process of testing Microsoft's final major pre-release of Windows Vista, Release Candidate 1 (RC1). In a future post, I'll review some of the pro's and con's that I see for cartoonists and multimedia designers like myself who might be debating whether upgrading is worth it, but first ...

Mustek's A3 USB ScanExpress is not compatible with Windows Vista.

At least, that's the official word from Mustek's Tech Support.

However, the A3 USB ScanExpress makes a wonderfully econonmic tabloid scanner (capable of scanning documents up to 11" x 17"). Not being able to use this device in Windows Vista would be ... well, disappointing.

But there's hope ...

This installer is only for Windows 98, Windows 95 OSR, Windows 2000 and Windows XP ... Or is it?

If you try installing the Mustek A3 USB driver (available here) under Windows Vista, you'll receive the following error message:

Even with Vista's Program Compatibility Wizard, the same error occurs.

The workaround is to make Windows Vista think that it is an older operating system (ex. Windows 2000) by temporarily changing the system's registry.

Windows Vista / Mustek A3 USB Workaround ...

This is actually based on an old trick that I've used several times in the past to install software under Windows XP, however, rookies should not attempt it without a computer geek's supervision :)

(1) Run the REGISTRY EDITOR. ("regedit.exe")

(2) Open HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion

(3) Rename the key "ProductName" from "Windows Vista (TM) Ultimate" to "Microsoft Windows 2000".

(4) Install the Mustek A3 USB driver for Windows 2K/XP.

(5) When installation has completed, undo the registry changes.

(6) Power the scanner and connect USB cable. Windows Vista will proceed with detecting and installing the scanner.

(7) Click the Start Button and navigate to All Programs -> ScanExpress A3 USB -> Direct Scan*
(* C:\Windows\twain_32\L3U16\WATCH.exe)

Congratulations! You can now use the Mustek A3 USB ScanExpress in Microsoft Windows Vista.

Stay TOONed!

- Mike Cope


  1. higrade5:05 a.m.

    Hi Mike
    thank you for your trick. Work fine and i can save many money.
    thank you

  2. Thanks to all the readers who've sent me comments via e-mail. Please note that an UPDATED version of this workaround is now available here!

  3. Anonymous12:37 p.m.

    Thank you, you are a hero.
    Mustek should post this on their site. I just wanted to sell my scanner. Now i can at least scan with the scanbutton. Twain still crashes.

  4. Would that work with Vista 64 version?

  5. Hey man, you saved me here! I just bought this scanner. I've used it once, and installed Vista today.

    Really great, man! Thanks!

    - Magnus

  6. Anonymous7:50 a.m.

    Thank you, you are ”xtrabest”, don't work never for microsoft, you are too smart for those retards!
    Maybe you are a romanien one, from Romania/Europe, or you have in your family an real romanien, not gipsy.

  7. You are the best !! Thanks a lot from France :)

  8. Miguel6:19 p.m.


    I think this method of solving the upgrade aspect is fantastic. In my case however, this did not work, as i just bought a brand new notebook already loaded with Vista Ultimate (the 64 bit version).

    I tried using the 64 bit drivers someone her listed a link to, but i think that is Taiwan support and it didn't work either. Will let you know if i manage to solve this.

  9. absolutely great --- thx for the info --- is very helpful for other installations as well --- chris from berln

  10. Anonymous9:51 a.m.

    Your trick helped me. I installed the driver for the Mustek BearPaw 2400 TA
    in the same way. It is running!!