What’s up everyone!
Another thing to take a look at is the cloud print service from Microsoft, called Universal Print. How cool would it be if we could use modern printing as well as modern endpoints, as it may already be a part of your existing Microsoft licenses. This could be especially of interest to you if you are considering a migration to Windows 365. Let’s take a look at what it is and what it can do!
This post is part of a series about Windows 365! (Also known as Cloud PC) In this series I will explore this awesome technology. If you are curious what Windows 365 can do for you and your organization, this series might be for you!
Series – Windows 365 with Nerdio Manager
- Part 1: An Introduction To Windows 365
- Part 2: Windows 365 Business vs Enterprise
- Part 3: Configure Windows 365 Business
- Part 4: Configure Windows 365 Enterprise
- Part 5: How To Migrate From Citrix Or VMware To Windows 365
- Part 6: Use Universal Print on Windows 365
- Part 7: Monitor And Improve Performance For Windows 365 Cloud PCs
- Part 8: Use Windows Autopatch To Keep Your Cloud PCs Up-To-Date
What is Universal Print?
The Universal Print service from Microsoft is a cloud print service and it helps us to print from anywhere to our printers. I started this blog with a Microsoft diagram about Universal Print. This diagram shows all the moving parts that are required but it also shows the possibilities we have.
Think of Universal Print this way: this service allows us to use the cloud as a print server. We can configure our Universal Print ready printers to directly use Universal Print and we can connect older printers by using the Universal Print connector. Your print jobs will go to the cloud and then to the physical printer. If your design allows it, you could even remove the existing print server if it’s not needed anymore.
Microsoft created a guided simulation on Universal Print. This sim shows exactly how to configure and manage Universal Print. Make sure to check it out!
It’s definitely worth it to mention the partner integrations. There is a growing list of printer manufacturers who have made their printers (or series of printers) ready to use with Universal Print. These printers can be configured to connect to Universal Print without the use of a local connector. Printer OEM’s are also releasing updates for many old printers that make them UP ready.
Here is a list of the partners that have teamed up with Microsoft.
Microsoft has the following prerequisites;
- Windows 10 (1903 or later).
- Universal Print Connector host if your printers are not Universal Print ready.
- Make sure your account is a member of the Printer Administrator or Global Administrator role if you want to administer Universal Print.
- An administrator needs to have a license that includes Universal Print assigned to them.
Licensing and Costs
At this point the following licenses can use Universal Print;
- Microsoft 365 Enterprise F3, E3, E5, A3 and A5.
- Windows 10 Enterprise E3, E5, A3 and A5.
- Microsoft 365 Business Premium.
- Universal Print (standalone). (Remember; Universal Print needs Azure AD. That’s not included in just the Universal Print standalone license)
So, what’s included in these licenses and what are the costs? Each license comes with 5 print jobs. Since these licenses are pooled licenses, we can multiply these jobs by the number of licenses to get the total number of print jobs. If you have 100 users, then it’s 500 print jobs per month for all of your users. The big takeaway here is that it does not matter if the print job consists of one page or a hundred pages.
It’s possible to add more jobs to your pool by purchasing additional print jobs. You can choose between a pack of 500 or 10.000 print jobs or add the 500 pack a couple of times so that the pool has enough jobs to fit your company requirements.
If you do not use all of your available print jobs in one month, they will expire. They will not carry over to the next month.
How To Setup Universal Print
Here’s an example of how to implement Universal Print. I’ll give a short description and go into more detail with screenshots later on. I’ll wrap this post up with some more information on how to deploy printers using MEM, how to check the usage, drivers etc. In short the implementation process looks like;
I would start by getting an up-to-date inventory on the printers we want to register to Universal Print. Make sure to;
- Check if they are Universal Print ready (or not), also check for a firmware or app update that makes the printer Universal Print ready.
- Check if the firmware is up-to-date, especially for Universal Print ready printers.
Try to get an estimate of the number of print jobs the customer requires. Then calculate how many jobs are available to the customer by counting the number of licenses. Add the correct number of add-ons to get enough print jobs in the pool to make sure the customer has enough print jobs, if needed. Make sure the admins have the correct licenses and are a member of the Print Administrator or Global Administrator role.
Install the Universal Print Connector (if necessary)
As mentioned before, this step is only needed if you need to register printers that are not Universal Print ready.
We can start to register the printers to Universal Print once the steps above have been completed.
For a Universal Print ready printer; follow the printer manufacturer’s instructions on how to register this printer.
For a non-Universal Print ready printer; use the Universal Print Connector to register the printer.
Assign permissions and share the printer.
Test Your Printers
Add a printer to your Cloud PC using the add a printer or scanner option in the operating system. Make sure to print a test page so you are sure the printer works using Universal Print.
Step 1: Printer Inventory
We should get an up-to-date list of all the printers we need to register to Universal Print.
As mentioned before, make sure the printers are Windows 10/11 ready, check if they are Universal Print ready and update the firmware.
Check this URL to easily find out what printers are Universal Print ready.
Step 2: Preparation
As mentioned in the intro, try to get an estimate of the number of print jobs your organization needs on a monthly basis. Calculate the number of jobs that are included in the licenses the company already has and, if needed, get add-ons to create the volume the company needs.
Check if the admin’s have licenses assigned that include the Universal Print right. From Endpoint Manager, Users, Click on the User account, Licenses and click on a license to see the Enabled Services. Check for Universal Print.
We are good to go in my example. So let’s move on to role assignments using Endpoint Manager. From the user object, Assigned roles. Check if the Printer Administrator role is assigned. If not, you can add the assignment from here.
Don’t worry if the new assignment doesn’t popup immediately. Give it a couple of seconds before you hit the refresh button to check.
Step 3: Install Universal Print Connector
Let’s take a look at the steps to install the Universal Print connector. Login to your server that will host the connector and download the connector. Run the installer.
Agree to the terms and select Install. The installation is a simple next-next-finish process.
Click Launch to open the settings.
Click OK and select Login to connect to the tenant.
Give the connector a name and click on the Register button. If you get an error at this point, check the license on the user that you are using to setup the connector. Most likely it does not have the correct license assigned or the correct role assigned.
Step 4: Register Printers
We get something like the screenshot above when the registration completes. The options here are pretty straightforward.
The registered printers box shows all the printers that are registered to Universal Print.
The available printers box shows all the printers that we can register to Universal Print.
The operation list shows the tasks that the Universal Print connector is performing.
There are two other options to talk about.
Automatically collect diagnostics; this setting allows the connector to gather diagnostic data and send it back to Microsoft. As per Microsoft ‘Diagnostic data is used to fix problems and keep the product secure.’
Enable hybrid AD configuration; If you turn this option on, the connector will impersonate the user account to send the print job to the target printer. If you leave this turned off, it will use the system account.
In my case I turned on the Enable hybrid AD configuration and added my HP printer to the registered printers, which is nothing more than checking the box in front of the printer and hit the Register button.
Now we have a registered printer!
Let’s go to the Universal Print portal. We can use this portal to manage our printers, printer shares and connectors.
Let’s share the printer. Click on Printers, Printer name. Click the Share button on the top.
We can set some properties to share the printer;
- Share Name
- Selected Printer (already provided)
- Allow access to everyone in my organization switch button
- Select Members (Users or Groups)
In my case I selected my demo group and selected Share Printer.
The status on the Printers page will change to Printer Shared.
On the Printer Shares tab we can see that the printer has been shared.
We can open the properties of the shared printer if we click on it. We get two tabs, properties and access control.
We can change the name of the share on the properties tab (just one item to configure).
On the access control tab we can change who has access to the printer.
Just to be complete, here’s what the Connectors tab looks like. It just gives us an overview of all known connectors.
Step 5: Test Your Printers
We should be able to add the printer to our Cloud PC. So let’s login and see if we can find the printer. Just open up your settings on the Printers & Scanners tab and click on the Add Device button.
Windows will now try to find the available printers.
Click the Add Device button.
So far so good! Let’s try and print.
We can check the progress of the print job right from our system. Open the printer and click on the Open Print Queue button.
Windows 365 Business users can add their printers in this way. Windows 365 Enterprise can use Microsoft Endpoint Manager to deploy printers to our users. Let’s check that out.
Optional: Use Microsoft Endpoint Manager To Deploy Printers
In Microsoft Endpoint Manager, go to Devices, Configuration Profiles, Create a new profile using the settings catalog. Give the policy a name.
Add the following settings;
- Cloud Device ID (User)
- Printer Shared Name (User)
Here’s how to configure the settings;
- Action (User): Select Install or Uninstall. In my case I select Install.
- Cloud Device ID (user): this refers to the Printer ID. You can find it in the Universal Print portal. Click on the printer. In the Overview screen you can see the Printer Id value. Click on the copy icon to make your life a bit more easy. Paste the value in the Cloud Device ID property.
- Printer Shared ID (user): Paste the Share ID of the printer. You can find it in the same screen as mentioned before or go to the shared printers and copy it from there.
- Printer Shared Name (user): You can copy the name from the printer or shared printer.
Continu to the other options and set the Scope Tags (if needed) and assign the policy to a group. In my case I’ll just use the demo group again.
Take a second to admire your awesome work and finish up by creating the configuration profile.
Just some quick notes here;
- Remember that these users need the correct license with the universal print right assigned to them. If they do not have the correct license, it simply will not work for them.
- Also, assigning this policy to users will not assign the license they need.
- If you’ve configured access rights on the printer and the user does not have access to the printer, then Intune will make sure to add the permissions. We get this notification if this is the case: The selected groups may not have Universal Print permissions to selected printers. If this is the case, Intune will provide these groups with the correct permissions.
Usage And Reporting
We already talked about the volume the customer needs. So how can we see how many jobs are left in the pool?
In my case, I have 2 licenses that can use Universal Print. That adds up to 10 jobs per month. In my demo I used one to print a test page from MS Word. (Could also have been from the printer itself, whatever you prefer).
Let’s check out the Usage and Reports section from the Universal Print portal.
This overview will show how the total print capacity (pool), the Remaining Print Jobs, Pending Print Jobs and Billed Print Jobs.
You can also download reports based on users or printers to view usage reports.
What Printer Options Are Supported?
Microsoft has a list of print options that are supported. Check this list.
At this moment the following options are supported:
- Specifying the number of copies to be printed
- Finishing options (stapling, hole punching, binding, and folding)
- Different media sizes (e.g. A3, A4, letter, etc.)
- Different media types (e.g. plain paper, photographic paper, transparency, etc.)
- Specifying the input tray to draw media from
- Printing multiple pages on a single sheet. This includes the ability to specify the layout order of the printed pages.
- Printing on both sides of a sheet
- Support for portrait and landscape orientations
- Printing in color, grayscale, or monochrome
- Printing in different qualities (e.g. draft, normal, high)
- Different print resolutions (e.g. 300 DPI, 600 DPI)
- Support for collation
- Scaling options (e.g. fit to page, stretch, etc.)
What about drivers?
The Universal Print service is based on the Internet Printing Protocol (IPP). IPP uses messages to;
- query a printer’s capabilities (such as supported character sets, media types and document formats)
- submit print jobs to a printer
- query the status of a printer
- query the status of one or more print jobs
- cancel previously submitted jobs
Since the printers use a universal print class driver, we do not have to manage print drivers on our Cloud PC.
There’s no HP Envy driver on my Cloud PC.
Here we can see that the printer object uses the Universal Print Class Driver. Very nice!