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Microsoft Launches Private Preview of 'Universal Print' Service

Aiming to eliminate the need to maintain print servers on-premises or install printer drivers, Microsoft on Monday announced a private preview of its Universal Print service.

The main requirement to use the Universal Print service is a subscription to the Azure Active Directory identity and access service (any edition), plus having Windows 10 devices that are domain-joined to Azure AD.

Microsoft's announcement specified that to use the private preview of Universal Print, organizations "must have Windows 10 Enterprise or Education, version 1903 or later" clients. There's no requirement to use Windows Server.

Those requirements differ somewhat from Microsoft's "Quickstart" install guide for Universal Print, which indicated that "Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise version 1809 or later, or Windows Server 2016 or later" is the minimum device requirement needed to use the service.

Universal Print essentially centralizes printer management activities for organizations. Printers managed by the Universal Print service are discoverable by end users, Microsoft said. While it's just at the preview stage right now, it appears this service will require having a Microsoft 365 subscription at some point, per Microsoft's "What Is Universal Print" document:

Universal Print is a Microsoft 365 subscription-based service that organizations use to centralize print management through the Universal Print portal. It's fully integrated with Azure Active Directory and supports single sign-on scenarios.

The Microsoft Intune device management service is used as part of the Universal Print service. The Office Data Storage Service also is used, according to a Microsoft diagram:

[Click on image for larger view.] Universal Print architecture (source: "What is Universal Print" Microsoft document). The service works with new compatible printers, or existing printers that use Microsoft's Universal Print connector.

Microsoft has been working with printer makers to include support for Universal Print in new machines. One partner pledging such support is Canon, with its "imageRUNNER ADVANCE and Office Printers," per Microsoft's announcement. Existing printers will work with the service via a proxy application.

"For existing printers, you can simply use a Universal Print proxy application that connects printers to Universal Print," the announcement explained.

Microsoft is touting Universal Print as offering relief from the deployment complexities associated with its Windows Server Hybrid Cloud Print solution.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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