Microsoft Azure to support cloud printer management

Don Sharpe
by Don Sharpe
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Microsoft has been developing Universal Print, a cloud-based print management solution for its MS 365 customers for a while. The service is now available in private preview, the company announced recently.

Today, we are happy to announce a private preview of Universal Print, a Microsoft cloud-based print infrastructure that will enable a simple, rich and secure print experience for users and help reduce time and effort for IT.

Say bye to on-premises print servers

Print management in the cloud makes a lot of sense, especially to enterprises and educational institutions that have already moved the bulk of their IT resources to the Microsoft 365 cloud. Instead of buying and maintaining on-premises print servers, they can now count on Azure to support this functionality.

No need to install printer drivers

Once you deploy your printers to the Universal Print service, you do not need to install drivers for the devices. The platform will automatically discover and set them up for use by employees in your organization.

Microsoft says you will not be able to make the most out of the cloud-based print management service if your printer does not have native support for it. Unfortunately, not many printers provide that level of compatibility today because Universal Print is a new operating environment.

But printers with the necessary built-in support will most likely be available before Universal Print hits general availability. Microsoft is already working with partners like Canon to make that possible.

In the meantime, you can plug your existing printer to Universal Print via proxy software.

Printer security

Microsoft promises its 365 cloud customers a secure print management platform. That assurance is necessary considering that printers connected to the web can be the weak security link in your network.

While Azure boasts built-in cloud security, it has its own vulnerabilities, just like any other cloud-based service. As such, you can create security groups in Universal Print to control access to your printers and minimize their threat exposure.

Service availability

Microsoft has not revealed the measures it has in place to guarantee Universal Print service availability in case of an internet outage. Maybe there will be an on-premises client for this purpose.

How to participate in the private preview

If you are eager to sample the Universal Print experience, you can sign up via this form.

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