HP has sucked ever since Hurd decided to go big-game hunting and screw the cash cow printer business. I took my last, nearly new HP printer to the dumps because its software didn't work correctly, and HP tech support said, tough sh#*. I wouldn't use an HP printer if you gave it to me for free.
I now have a simple little Epson Stylus NS515 ink jet that works flawlessly.
HP printers have gone down in quality, and their drivers have gotten more and more intrusive and flaky. When it takes 30 minutes or longer to install drivers for a printer, you know there is something wrong.
For light printer usage, I now recommend to my clients to get Brother Printers. With light usage, they last quite a while and are cheap enough that you almost don't mind ditching them when they eventually break down.
With heavy usage, I now recommend Dell Printers. They work well for the most part, although there are some security rights issues when using them with a Terminal Server.
Xerox Phaser printers are very good, but expensive and can't be laminated.
Gone are the days of buying an HP laser printer and using it for 10 to 15 years.
Just this week I found the same lack of HP LaserJet 1012 driver support for Windows 7 when setting up a new PC for a customer. I was not pleased, but at least the customer had a HP LaserJet p1606 available. The HP LaserJet 1010, 1012, 1015, 1018, 1020 and 1022 are all out of production, but like most HP LaserJet products I've worked with going all the way back to the HP LaserJet II, they seem to outlive the computers they are connected to. This particular HP LaserJet series was cheap, reliable, reasonably fast and used an affordable 12A cartridge. I run a 1018 and 1020 in my office, and they have been working for almost four years.
I agree with your comment regarding the laziness of HP in not offering support on older printer models that are still likely to be in service. I think the HP we all used to know and love (or at least like a lot) has been gone for quite a while. I'm sure Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard would be shocked to see what a mess HP has become in recent years.