Microsoft Universal Print Is Generally Available

There is a rich print ecosystem in them thar clouds

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03/23/2021

Lee Davis

 

 

After almost one year in private and public preview, Microsoft Universal Print is now generally available (read our previous blog here). Now, all of Microsoft’s customers with 365 Business Premium, Enterprise (F3, E3, E5), or Education (A3, A5) subscriptions, or Windows 10 Enterprise (E3, E5) and Education (A3 A5) subscriptions can take advantage of the company’s cloud print management solution.

 

Getting up to Speed

For those who have not heard of Microsoft Universal Print, allow me to explain. Microsoft Universal Print is a Microsoft 365 SaaS that enables businesses to lift their print infrastructure into the cloud—meaning no more on-premises print servers, print drivers, or other chores that come with on-premises print management.

 

Microsoft Universal Print will make life easier for everyone throughout the organization. By eliminating print servers and drivers from the equation (and the need to manage them), IT departments can free up their budget and dedicate more time to use on higher-priority matters. Tight integration with Azure Active Directory and a centralized, remotely accessible admin portal also makes it easier for the IT department to manage the print environment than with on-prem print management. End users will not notice much change. Users can still enjoy that “ctrl + p” experience, only now it is easier to find, connect to, and use printers and MFPs. Users can find devices based on their locations, and will only see the devices that they have permission to use.

 

Partners will play a big role in the success of Microsoft Universal Print.

 

A Rich Print Ecosystem in the Cloud

Microsoft has been working closely with leading print hardware providers while developing Universal Print. While we have yet to see a true Microsoft Universal Cloud Print-ready device come to the market, some manufacturers have released firmware updates to make their hardware compatible with Universal Cloud Print without connectors or appliances. As of now, Brother, Canon, Epson, HP, Konica Minolta, KYOCERA, Lexmark, Ricoh, and Toshiba have released or plan to release firmware updates to make their hardware compatible with Universal Print. Some of these OEMs are tooling their own print management solutions to work with Universal Print, as well.

 

Likewise, Microsoft has worked with leading ISVs in the print management space throughout the evolution of Universal Print (currently Celiveo, Ezeep, Kofax, MPS Monitor, MyQ X, PaperCut, Pharos, PriApps, Printix, Process Fusion, Ringdale, NT-ware, and YSoft). Working with partners is key because Microsoft Universal Print offers a plain feature set. Outside of restricting who can see and use which printers, basic usage tracking capabilities, and other vanilla print management features, Microsoft Universal Print does not do much else—especially compared to the full-blown print management solutions that we’ve evaluated in the past. Fortunately, it does offer easy integration with leading print management ISVs, enabling businesses to use advanced print management features like device-based authentication using smartphones, contactless cards, or PIN codes; granular tracking and reporting; cost accounting and recovery capabilities; and the ability to enforce print rules.

 

The release of Microsoft Universal Print marks a major milestone for the print management space, and we are just getting started. Microsoft Universal Print is just the groundwork for what we believe will evolve into a rich print ecosystem in the cloud.

 

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