Universal Print Support Apps Coming to Newer Windows Systems
Microsoft this week described some Universal Print details coming this year to the next Windows 10 feature update release (21H2), as well as the new Windows 11 operating system.
Universal Print is a relatively new service, commercially released by Microsoft back in March. It lets organizations with Microsoft 365 Business Premium or E3/E5-type licensing dispense with having to set up print servers and manage print drivers, although there are monthly print-job costs to pay.
New printers with built-in Universal Print support are arriving this month. Older printers also can use the Universal Print scheme, if updated to use Microsoft's Universal Print Connector software for Windows systems.
Print Support Applications
Windows 10 version 21H2 and Windows 11 both will get Universal Print functions augmented by "Print Support Applications" (PSAs).
PSAs are Universal Windows Platform applications built by Microsoft's partners and housed in the Microsoft Store. PSAs add support for various capabilities, such as print customizations, the addition of watermarks in printer output, plus accounting information. PSAs aren't drivers, since the Universal Print service itself contains the only driver that gets used.
IT pros will be able to install PSAs from the Microsoft Store using Microsoft Endpoint Manager. This install capability will be available for devices running Windows 11 or Windows 10 version 21H2. No other Windows client versions were mentioned as being supported in that regard.
PSA installations happen on client devices. It's possible to use a "default PSA" or another vendor's PSA can be used.
Home Windows 11 users aren't candidates for using the Universal Print service, but PSAs still get used in their cases. A default PSA will be installed "automatically from the store when the home user connects a printer to the home network," the announcement explained. Home users will use the PSA to control advanced printer functions.
Universal Print is getting updated to permit the use of personal identification numbers (PINs) when accessing print jobs at the printer. The PIN access option will be available in Windows 11, as well as Window 10 version 21H2, sometime "later this year."
PIN use was characterized as being an "eco-friendly" measure.
"Some will see this [use of a PIN for print jobs] as increased security, but we mostly think of this as functionality that will reduce paper and toner waste and offer users some privacy when printing," the announcement explained.
The Universal Print service is based on the Internet Print Protocol (IPP) standard from the Printer Working Group.
Microsoft is bolstering some of those IPP capabilities in Universal Print by adding support for "IPP over USB," which broadens printer hardware options. It's also adding support for a capability called "directed discovery of IPP printers." The directed discovery capability "enables IPP and PSA for Windows Server 2022 for Point and Print customers who want to continue using Windows Server for print enablement," Microsoft explained.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.