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Current printers in most organizations are not able to communicate with Universal Print directly. This capability requires special printer firmware that supports the communication protocols that the Universal Print service uses. For legacy hardware, the Universal Print Connector serves as a proxy between the printers and the service in Microsoft Azure.
In most environments, the first step in setting up Universal Print is to install the connector. The connector advertises the printers to the cloud service. The Universal Print Connector has some system requirements, as detailed in the Microsoft documentation. They include:
- Universal Print is enabled in your Azure tenant
- Your user account has the role Printer Administrator or Global Administrator
- Your user account is assigned a Universal Print license
- Windows 10 64-bit, Pro or Enterprise, version 1809 or later, or Windows Server 2016 64-bit or later
- The host PC must have access to the following internet destinations: *.print.microsoft.com, *.microsoftonline.com, *.azure.com, *.msftauth.net, go.microsoft.com, aka.ms
You can download the Universal Print Connector here.
Installing the Universal Print Connector
I have a Windows 10 Pro 1909 virtual machine with a single HP LaserJet 451 printer installed in my lab environment. This VM houses the Universal Print Connector installation. After you have downloaded the Universal Print Connector, the installation is a simple "next, next, finish" process.
As the Universal Print Connector setup finishes successfully, click the Launch button.
Registering the Universal Print Connector with Azure
Once you choose to launch the utility, you will see the Universal Print connector configuration dialog screen. It will have you log in using your organization account. As a reminder, this needs to be a user with the Printer Administrator or Global Administrator role. There is a note about diagnostic information. You can change the diagnostics configuration once you log in with your organization account.
Once you have logged in, configure the connector name, and click Register. Once the connector service is registered, it holds the credentials for connecting to Azure AD. You can log out of the configuration utility when finished.
As soon as you have the Universal Print Connector connected to your Microsoft Azure environment, the utility provides the interface to configure your printers and other settings. Under the Available Printers area, you will see the printers available. Place a check next to those you want to register, and click the Register button.
This action will add the printer to the list of registered devices in the connector.
Managing Universal Print in Microsoft Azure
To manage the Universal Print solution, you need to log into the Microsoft Azure portal. Search for Universal Print in the Search resources, services, and docs search box. Once you click the Universal Print service, you will see its management options. There, you can manage printers, shares, and connectors.
We see the printers registered in the Universal Print Connector. Notice that the status is "not shared."
We can easily create a shared printer by clicking Add in the Printer Shares section.
This opens the Create printer share dialog box. Choose a share name, select a printer, and select members of the organization granted access to the Universal Print shared printer.
After returning to the overview, the printer will be marked as Printer Shared. There you can also see if the device is ready.
Adding the Universal Print cloud printer to an endpoint
Since the Universal Print cloud printer is shared from the cloud, we can add the printer to an endpoint. Once a Windows 10 client is joined to the organization in Azure AD, you can launch the Windows 10 Printers & Scanners app and search for available printers.
You will see your shared printer available. Amazingly, there is nothing special that needs to be configured on the Windows 10 client. The Windows 10 machine can connect to the Universal Print shared printer from anywhere in the world.
If you are running a Windows 10 20xx version, the Universal Print Class driver is loaded automatically and by default.
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Universal Print is a powerful solution from Microsoft that takes on-premises printing and "cloudifies" it by connecting local printers with Azure Active Directory. As shown, you will need to install the Universal Print Connector to use traditional printers with the Universal Print service, unless you have newer printers with supported firmware versions.