So you have moved our email infrastructure, apps and storage to the cloud, it makes sense that the next logical service you might look at is to move printing to the cloud. Even though businesses are moving towards a paperless environment, printing is still a business-critical IT function that not only requires a complex infrastructure of printers, associated drivers, and print servers but also demands a great deal of effort from the IT department for maintenance and problem-solving. Up till recently, most thought that the Printing service would need to stay local to the network due to network overhead and speed of printing. There is some good news, Microsoft has released Universal Print which allows companies to move their local print infrastructure to the cloud and it works really well and is a breeze to set up.
Related Content – Advantages of Cloud Computing
Microsoft Universal Print is a new cloud-based printing solution from Microsoft that enables easy printing from Azure AD joined devices without the need for an on-premise print server. In addition to doing away with the need for a local print server, Universal Print also means you don’t need to install and manage printer drivers on PCs. When it comes to Managing printers and deployment, Microsoft Universal Print adds functionality like deployment through security groups for printer access and location-based printer discovery to make it easier for the user to access the right printer when they need it. To the user, When it comes to printing documents and functionality, the printing looks exactly the same: they add the cloud printer in Settings and then pick it in an application’s print dialogue. For printer admins, they benefit from getting a single portal where they can manage print functionality across all their printers.
How to install Microsoft Universal Print Connector?
Printers that support Microsoft Universal Print directly can be registered with Azure AD by following the manufacturer’s instructions. Many of the cloud print services like Canon, Brother and HP’s offerings, and Azure-based services like PaperCut and NTware uniflow (which had also supported Google Cloud Print) are supporting the move to cloud printing.
For all other printers, the Universal Print connector must be used. The Universal Print connector can be installed on Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise version 1809 or later, or Windows Server 2016 or later. It requires the .NET Framework 4.7.2 or a later version.
The installation is extremely simple. Here is a quick summary of the steps.
- Download and install the Universal Print connector. It can be downloaded from Microsoft’s website here.
- Login as Global Administrator with a Universal Print license or Printer Administrator with a Universal Print license.
- Configure a name for the connector and register it
- Register the printers with Universal Print
- Share the printers with your users
That’s literally it.
Installing the printer on an AutoPilot/Azure-AD joined device
Now for the easy part. To install the printer on a users’ computer – Go to devices & printers in Windows Settings and search for printers. You will notice that the Cloud printer will have a cloud in the printer icon.
Just add the printer and you’re done.
Benefits to Microsoft Universal Print
For IT professionals who are managing print, Universal Print offers:
- A reliable and easy to use and manage print solution.
- Secure remote printing in zero-trust networks.
- Eliminates the need to manage print servers.
- A centralised portal to manage your entire printing infrastructure in one place.
- Visibility and insights into your print with reporting.
- Printer deployment and default printer configuration on end-user devices using Microsoft Endpoint Manager (Microsoft Intune).
Better Integration with Microsoft 365 services
Universal Print also integrates with other Microsoft 365 services. If a document has information that means it’s marked as sensitive through Endpoint Data Loss Prevention, Universal Print will stop it from being printed at all. Third-party services can build on the Microsoft Graph APIs to offer extra features, like more detailed tracking and reporting. Or you could build your own custom print workflows using Power Automate, either to control who can print what, when and where, or to automatically generate printouts in the right location as part of a business workflow.