they tried, in a roundabout way - there was a trend a few (okay, 15ish) years ago of cheap "WinPrinters", much like WinModems which came a little later, where Windows itself would render GDI commands to a bitmap and send it to the printer in a pretty uncomplicated fashion. All the printer 'driver' needed to tell Windows was a little about the capabilities of the device - the WinPrinting core did the rest.
GDI itself is *supposed* to be device-independent, but didn't have much in the way of decent type rendering when they came up with it-TrueType support didn't appear in Windows until Windows 3.1 (until then, Adobe Type Manager was an immensely popular utility).
If they'd done it a little later, after they gained a complete monopoly and killed DOS, they would have probably got away with it, but back then too many people needed printers to work when they *weren't* running Windows for it to be feasible.
Plus, of course, the same problems that people had with WinModems - that they were cheap, nasty, and they didn't realise until a little too late that printers could render stuff a lot quicker than a 25MHz 386 with a couple of meg of RAM (and that was if you had a high-spec machine).
Mind you, they didn't die out completely when there was a real price drop in laser printers a little while ago, WinPrinters had a bit of resurgence, but they tend to support at least some other page-description language (e.g., PCL) as well. Still caused a few headaches for the CUPS guys as I recall, though.