Universal Print eliminates the need for on-premises print servers and let you easily manage and deploy printers directly to Cloud PCs with Microsoft Endpoint Manager.
As businesses are shifting more and more to digital and away from paper, you could ask yourself, do we still have to print? In many cases, the answer is still "yes" and that's why it is important to simplify legacy print environments in the most efficient way possible. This is where the new Microsoft 365 service Universal Print comes into play!
Universal Print is a cloud-based print solution to allow IT admins to share and manage printers through the cloud.
You might remember how to set up a print environment– or still do it today. Spin up a Windows Server environment, add the print server role, and start adding printers and designated drivers to the server. Not very modern.
Universal Print offers the same, and more, features while also eliminating the need for on-premises infrastructure. It enables you to manage printers directly through a centralized portal in Microsoft Azure. Say goodbye to installing (and maintaining) printer drivers on devices and/or golden images. Also, everything works with Azure AD. This means that users can use the same set of credentials they use for other Microsoft services, whether they logon to a physical or virtual desktop running in the Cloud.
To learn more, see Supported print options – Universal Print.
With Universal Print, you can:
Users want technology that is familiar, easy to use and always available so they can work and create fluidly across devices. Cloud PC makes this possible by combining the power and security of the cloud with the familiarity of the PC. Only Microsoft can bring together the PC and the cloud with a consistent and integrated Windows experience. Introducing Windows 365. Windows 365 is the world’s first Cloud PC. With a Cloud PC, Windows evolves from a device-based OS to hybrid personalized computing.
A Cloud PC is your personalized desktop, apps, settings, and content streamed securely from the cloud to your devices. It enables you to decrease costs while lowering the complexity of your environment as you deploy and manage virtual endpoints in Microsoft Endpoint Manager. No additional virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) expertise or resources are needed.
As most of my followers know, I’m an engineer that likes to explain new technology in depth. The architectural concept around Universal Print is as is show in the illustration below. The core print services are running in the Cloud as Platform service running on Azure, while the Universal Print connector(s) have to be installed on device running a Windows Server or Windows client OS. The connector device may be a physical device, virtualized on-premises, or hosted in Azure. You may choose to install connector on an existing print server to quickly add all the printers on that device to Universal Print.
Note: There is no need for a connector if you already have a Universal Print ready printer. There may also be firmware updates for printers that don’t currently support Universal Print with their older firmware version.
Where does my printed data go? Universal Print stores all print queues in Office data storage. This is the same storage that stores customer’s Office 365 mailboxes and OneDrive files. A job stays in the print queue for a few days. If the job is not claimed at the printer within three days, it gets marked as aborted. Even after printing, a job may stay in Universal Print for a few more days (up to a total of 10 days).
Working remote and from home are popular today. When you do return to the office; however, Universal Print offers the option to search for printers based on location and, when you return home, your home printer is auto-assigned.
How does that work? You can use filters based on country, city, building, floor, and other criteria. Alternatively, there’s the option to use GPS based location-allocation. The Printer Administrator can configure the latitude and longitude of their printers in the Universal Print Admin portal. In order to track the location of the user, location sharing should be turned on the user’s Windows physical endpoint device
Universal Print is – next to other Microsoft 365 services, like Azure Virtual Desktop – part of almost all the common Microsoft 365 licenses. So there a likely chance that you are eligible for using Universal Print today if you have one of the following subscriptions:
If your organization does not have one of these, Universal Print can be licensed standalone. (The standalone subscription does not come with, but requires, Azure Active Directory.)
Before we start, make sure – that just like Windows 365 - that your environment is Hybrid Azure Active Directory enabled – or Azure AD only. Make sure the “Windows 10 or later domain-joined devices” box has been ticked. For more details, see Configure hybrid Azure Active Directory join for managed domains.
If you have an eligible Microsoft 365 or Windows subscription, here are the steps.
Go to the Microsoft Azure Portal and log on as either the Global Administrator or the account with the Printer admin/tech roles assigned.
Search for Universal Print.
Note: Getting this error? Make sure you have a Universal Print license assigned.
You can perform the following steps if your printer is Universal Print ready. In this example, we'll use Lexmark, but Canon, Brother, Konica Minolta, and other printers are supported too. See Partner Integrations – Universal Print for the full list.
Note: If you are registering a specific vendor’s Universal Print ready printer for the first time, the Azure AD account needs to be a Global Administrator.
You Printer has been successfully registered to Universal Print.
Please perform the following steps if your printers are not able to connect with Universal Print directly and require a bridge/proxy which has to be done with the Universal Print connector.
Note: You can also install the software on one of your legacy print servers to connect them to the Universal Print service. The Print Connector must run in order to connect to the printer, it’s possible to let other users print via a printer that is connected via a print connector on someone else’s desktop.
The Connector will now be registered to the Universal Print Service! To verify, in the Connectors menu in the Azure Portal, you should see the Connector name listed.
You can select the connector name to see some of the details of that specific machine and its status.
If you are utilizing Azure Virtual Desktop or any other hybrid Azure AD physical endpoint scenario, you will need to open the Universal Print connector settings, navigate to Enable hybrid AD configuration, and select On.
The connection is complete. We now need to make the printers available in the cloud as part of the Universal print service.
The printers are being added to the Cloud. The status is in progress. This takes a minute or so.
While printers are now visible in the Printers list, they aren’t yet shared. To share the printers with your end users,
Now the printers have been connected and shared, but users are still not allowed to see and use the printers. You now need to add and configure an Azure AD group or add the users directly to the list of members for each printer.
You can also select the “Allow access to everyone in my organization” option to allow all users to print.
Select your Azure AD users or groups. Once ready, select Share Printer
The printer is being shared…
The printer is now ready to test within your desktop – as the status is "Printer Shared."
To test that printers have been assigned correctly, log on to your virtual or physical desktop Logon as an Azure AD user that is assigned to one of the printers that is shared within Universal Print.
The printer has now been added and is ready to test.
Open the cloud-based printer and select Manage.
Select Print a test page. The test page has been sent to the printer. You can open the print queue to see if something happens.
The test print job has been sent to the printer.
If everything goes fine, the print job should be available and listed in the Universal Print admin portal too. You can find the jobs in the Universal Print portal by selecting the printer and then selecting Jobs.
You should also see the job status as Completed. Great job!
In the previous section, you’ve learned about all the basics as well as the manual process of assigning printers. For enterprises seeking to assign numerous printers to various users across multiple geographic locations, this process can be conducted—and simplified—with Microsoft Endpoint Manager.
Note: To add virtual desktops to Microsoft Endpoint Manager, see Preparing to Manage Windows Virtual Desktops.
The .intunewin package is now ready to use within Microsoft Endpoint Manager!
Now we move to the Microsoft Endpoint Manager admin center.
Your printers are now available to your users and virtual desktops!
Visit the new Windows 365 Tech Community to gather with other people that are seeking to learn and help each other while adopting Windows 365 and Cloud PC.
Have ideas on what features you'd like to see in this service? Submit them through the Windows 365 feature requests board!
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