Microsoft To Bump Up Universal Print Allocations Next Month

Microsoft is planning to increase the overall monthly print-job allocation for Universal Print users from five print jobs per month to 100 print jobs per month, starting next month, according to a Wednesday announcement.

The expanded monthly allocation for Universal Print end users will take effect on May 1, 2023 for "organizations with a Microsoft 365 E3 or E5 plan." Microsoft is making the change because there's been an increased need to buy additional print jobs given the post-pandemic trend of people sometimes returning to offices. Also, Microsoft is somewhat acknowledging the burden that Universal Print puts on IT departments to track overall print volumes in their organizations.

Here's how the announcement characterized it:

Furthermore, tracking print jobs across an organization takes time and is not a priority. Microsoft is constantly listening to feedback, and we are minimizing the need to track and purchase additional print jobs for Microsoft 365 customers.

Print Job Pooling and Add-On Packs
Universal Print is "free" with E3 and E5-type licensing and dispenses with IT departments having to maintain print servers. It benefits end users by letting them print from anywhere and find printers easily. However, Microsoft had introduced Universal Print as product a couple of years ago with a somewhat complicated print-job allocation pooling scheme.

Per this scheme, IT departments need to buy so-called "add-on packs" consisting of 500 print jobs should their organizations exceed their monthly print allocations.

Under the original and current pooling scheme, end users are allocated just five print jobs per month. The page counts of these print jobs weren't counted -- it was just tracked per print job. Moreover, the allocation of print jobs per month was pooled among the total number of Universal Print users. So, if an organization had 1,000 users, then their print allocation for the month was 5,000 print jobs (5 x 1,000). Any total print-job count exceeding the monthly limit required buying an add-on, else organizational printing would be suspended.

With next month's end user print-job allocation getting upped to 100, an organization with 1,000 users would have an overall print-job pool of 100,000 print jobs (100 x 1,000) per month.

IT departments likely still will have to buy add-on packs if the monthly quota gets exceeded under this new plan. Microsoft didn't mention any change to the add-on process. Given such circumstances, IT departments are still tasked with tracking the overall print usage each month to avoid organizational printing from coming to a halt.

Other Universal Print Perks
A few other Universal Print perks were described in Microsoft's announcement. Universal Print, currently available for Windows 10 and Windows 11 clients, will get support for macOS clients. A preview of macOS support "is expected in June 2023." Organizations will be getting a "single print solution for all users," Microsoft promised.

Microsoft is also preparing a preview that will let Android or iOS device users "securely release a print job" by scanning a QR code.

Microsoft contended that "all major print manufacturers have Universal Print ready print models available." Alternatively, it's possible to get printer models that can be upgraded to support Universal Print via a "firmware update or a printer app." These "Printer Support Apps" are typically issued by the printer manufacturers to augment Universal Print capabilities.

Last year in an April 7, 2022 comment to a 2021 announcement, Microsoft suggested it had released PIN (personal identification number) support for use with Universal Print, although full support seems to depend on the printer manufacturers. The PIN support is conceived as saving paper and toner, rather than as a security measure. Users have to enter their PIN at the printer for a print job to complete.

About the Author

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


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