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Microsoft makes Universal Print generally available

Microsoft wants Universal Print to replace on-premises print servers. The cloud service provides printer management and eliminates the use of printer drivers.

Microsoft has made Universal Print generally available for Windows PCs, and said the cloud-based service will support other devices this summer.

At the Microsoft Ignite virtual conference this week, Microsoft said it will include Universal Print with commercial and educational Windows 10 or Microsoft 365 subscriptions. Microsoft also offers a standalone subscription. The service is a replacement for printer servers.

Universal Print, released in preview last year, simplifies printer management. Workers no longer need drivers on their PCs to print documents in the office or at home. IT professionals manage printers from a central portal in the cloud.

Administrators can control which employees have access to specific printers. Admins can also view printer properties and manage default settings.

Manufacturers with printers supporting the service include Brother, Canon, Epson, HP, Konica Minolta, Lexmark, Ricoh, Toshiba and Xerox. Some existing printers will support the service through a software download. Printers without Universal Print software can still access the service, but it requires extra steps.

This summer, Microsoft plans to release software that lets any device, including smartphones, print documents. The company said it will soon announce a preview of the application on its Universal Print blog.

Microsoft Universal Print
Universal Print offers several services.

While offices print fewer documents than in the past, the need for hard copies has not gone away, said R "Ray" Wang, founder of Constellation Research. "It's not like we went all digital and stopped printing things."

Universal Print competes with cloud printing service ThinPrint. Google had a similar offering called Cloud Print but folded it into the Chrome OS last year.

Mike Gleason is a reporter covering end-user computing topics such as desktop management. He previously covered communities in the MetroWest region of Massachusetts for the Milford Daily NewsWalpole TimesSharon Advocate and Medfield Press. He has also worked for newspapers in central Massachusetts and southwestern Vermont and served as a local editor for Patch. He can be found on Twitter at @MGleason_TT.

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