Get ready to revolutionize your printing experience with easy Universal Print and Microsoft 365 E3/E5 plans! Starting May 1, 2023, organizations can enjoy up to 100 print jobs per license per month, simplifying cloud adoption with Universal Print. In this post, I will dive into the technical implementation of Universal Print and explore how you can efficiently distribute printers through Intune to enhance your printing capabilities.
Table of Contents
- What is Universal Print?
- Implement Universal Print
- Assign Licenses for Universal Print to Users
- Register Universal Printer Devices
- Share Printers with Users
- Distribute the Printer with Intune
- Configure Universal Print Document Conversion
- Monitor Usage
- Final Thoughts on Easy Universal Print
I stated earlier that we are moving towards a cloud-based world, but the paperless office is not yet a reality like the paperless toilets are not yet a reality – for some.
When moving from a traditional to a modern IT operation model based on Azure AD and Intune, you will have a migration period with resources in both camps. Typically, endpoints first go to the cloud, while well-established services lag. Print services are often left on the print servers, and you must install printers from the AD print server on the AAD-joined computers. Print is the last bastion of on-premises infrastructure.
Universal Print simplifies printing and eliminates the need for print servers, creating a more eco-friendly print management system in the cloud. Beginning on May 1, 2023, companies with a Microsoft 365 E3 or E5 plan will receive 100 print jobs per license monthly. These print jobs will be automatically added to the organization’s pool and available to all employees with a Universal Print seat.
This update streamlines the transition to cloud-based printing and recognizes the continued importance of print as a daily activity for many individuals. This news inspired me to dive into Microsoft Universal Print despite my printer allergies.
What is Universal Print?
Microsoft Universal Print is a cloud-based print solution that simplifies printing for organizations while eliminating the need for on-premises print servers.
Here are some key points about Universal Print:
- It allows users to print from anywhere and any device without complex printer configurations or drivers.
- It provides a centralized print management system in the cloud, enabling administrators to manage printers and print jobs from a single location.
- It integrates with Microsoft 365, Azure Active Directory, and other Microsoft services to provide a seamless printing experience for users.
- It supports many printers and copiers, including legacy devices, without additional hardware or software.
- It provides advanced security features, such as secure print release, to protect sensitive documents and prevent unauthorized access.
- It is available as part of Microsoft 365 E3 or E5 plans, making it an affordable option for organizations of all sizes.
More information about Universal Print can be found at print.microsoft.com.
You can also visit Get To Know Universal Print for a 10-minute walkthrough. This is a great place to start if you have no or little knowledge of this technology.
Implement Universal Print
Assign Licenses for Universal Print to Users
Universal Print is a feature with commercial and educational subscriptions for Microsoft 365 and Windows 10 Enterprise. However, it is also available for purchase as a separate subscription.
|License||Jobs pr Month|
|Microsoft 365 E3 + E5||100|
|Microsoft 365 A3 + A5 + F3 + Business Premium||5|
|Windows 10 Enterprise E3 + E5 + A3 + A5||5|
|Universal Print standalone||5|
Each license adds monthly jobs to a pool of print jobs available to all licensed users. Buying extra print volumes in quantities for 500 and 10.000 jobs is possible. Read more of this at License Universal Print at Microsoft.
Register Universal Printer Devices
An administrator working with Universal Print must have a Universal Print license assigned!
Several print vendors deliver Universal Print ready printers. These printers can be directly integrated with the cloud service. The following page has an up-to-date list of Universal Print ready printers.
If you don’t find your printer to support Universal Print directly, you can use a Universal Print Connector as a proxy. The Universal Print connector aims to ensure that a wide range of these unsupported printers can integrate with the Universal Print service. The connector can be installed on a Windows device running in the same environment as the printers.
Register Universal Print Ready Printer
There are different ways of adding a Universal Print ready printer to the service. This is typically found under the Network option of the printer settings, like this example from Lexmark:
Ricoh has released a whitepaper with information on their approach for Universal Print integration. They also have a good PrintUP_Registration_and_Configuration_Guide.pdf to set up the service directly from their widget.
Some printers also have Universal Print support as a separate app in the printer’s proprietary Marketplace. Here is an example of Konica Minoltas connector for Universal Print from their marketplace:
You should refer to the printer OEM documentation to find the routine for your printer. Remember to check the following page, which has an up-to-date list of Universal Print ready printers.
Register Universal Print Connector Printer
The following routine will describe how to set up a Universal Print connector on a Windows device to support printer units lacking Universal Print native support.
Download and Install Connector
Log in to the Microsoft Azure portal as a user with a Universal Print license and the Printer Administrator or Global Administrator role. Search for the Universal Print service.
Download the connector from the Overview page or https://aka.ms/UPConnector.
Install the connector on a host PC with internet access running 24×7 next to your printer devices. This article describes the number of printers that can be run on the Microsoft Universal Print connector.
You should sign in with your Printer Administrator account upon launching Universal Print Connector.
Give the connector a descriptive name and register it to Azure.
The connector will now be visible in the Azure Universal Print service.
Once the Universal has started up, we see two configurable options.
- The connector can collect diagnostics data on errors and send these to Microsoft.
- The Enable Hybrid AD Configuration lets the connector use information from Active Directory Domain Controller to impersonate the user account that sent the print job. Otherwise, the connector sends the print job using the local system account on the connector PC.
Registering Printers to Universal Print Connector
The Universal Print Connector will list available printers on the Windows running the connector. Select the printer you want to register from the list of available printers and click the Register button.
The registration process typically takes 10 to 30 seconds pr. printer. Once this has been completed, the registered printers will be listed in the Registered printers list.
The printer is now visible in the Azure Universal Print service.
It is now necessary to share the printer to make it accessible to users
Share Printers with Users
Before users can print to the printer, it must be shared, and access must be granted. Mark the printer and click on the Share button. Specify a descriptive share name and pick which users/groups should be allowed to use the printer.
You can share multiple printers in one operation.
Accessing Printer Details
Clicking on the printer will give an overview of the configuration and jobs. It will also provide the option to configure some properties.
Suppose you add the latitude and longitude or address information like country, city, building, floor, etc. In that case, this information can be used to offer users the nearest Universal Print printer.
Accessing Printer Share Details
Clicking on the printer share will give an overview of the share, properties, and access control. You can swap the printer behind the share or adjust the access controls here.
The printer should now be ready for the users.
Distribute the Printer with Intune
A client device will get the best user experience using the latest OS release.
Windows Client OS must be of minimum version 1903.
macOS support is on the roadmap for September 2023.
By using the settings catalog in Intune, I can create a printer policy for distributing printers to users. This is done by creating a new profile in the Intune Admin Center under Devices – Configuration Profiles.
Give the policy a proper name and a good description.
Add the Printer Provisioning settings to the policy.
Add the printers that are supposed to be shared with this policy.
Assign the profile to a group of users.
If the profile is assigned to the user without access rights to the printer, then Intune will grant the permissions for the assigned user/group.
The printer will now be available to the users.
From a user perspective, the printer is ready to use from any application.
Configure Universal Print Document Conversion
It can enable document conversation to maximize print support for client devices. This setting is in the Azure Universal Print portal at the following location.
This will help convert printed documents to formats supported by the printer.
The Azure Universal Print portal has a Monitor section holding usage reports.
This is where you can find your billing summary listing available and used print jobs, as well as an overview of printer objects held by the service.
The screenshot above was taken before the license change 1st of May. 11 licenses with 10 prints included gave the tenant a total of 55 print jobs. After the increase of print jobs on the 1st of May, the same tenant now has 1100 print jobs available each month for its 11 licensed users.
The reports can be downloaded as CSV files.
Final Thoughts on Easy Universal Print
A PowerShell module named UniversalPrintManagement is available to manage and administer universal print resources. This can be used for building automated tools. More information is available here: PowerShell Module – Universal Print . Also, look at the Universal Print cloud printing API overview for Microsoft Graph.
It seems like the distributed driver is a universal print driver based on PWG’s IPP standard. For an advanced environment, this can be troublesome with missing support for PCL, PS, or other PDLs.
I guess printers with advanced finishers will be problematic to support with this service.
The service currently only supports page printers – no label printers or plotters. I also miss advanced functions like “follow-me-print”, prints protected by a PIN, etc.
Universal Print will soon be previewing a mechanism for secure release. With the secure release, users can send print jobs to a printer, but these jobs will be on hold in the cloud. Users must walk to the printer, scan a QR code using their mobile phone, select the on-hold jobs, and release them for print. The secure release will help customers save on unnecessary print wastage, protects users’ privacy, and secure data. You can join this feature preview today by following these instructions: Join the Universal Print secure release preview – Microsoft Community Hub.
If more advanced features are a requirement, it could be worth checking out third parties like Printix, which extends the capabilities of Universal Print by providing comprehensive modern printing features for all printers and multifunction devices. More information about this here: Universal Print by Microsoft – Printix Administrator Manual
Utilize Your Included Service
At the launch of 100 prints per Microsoft 365 E3/E5 license, you should consider using the Microsoft Universal Print service. There may be many user groups where the solution is satisfactory. It is advisable to use the function that comes with the licenses. Universal Print will help move one of the last on-premises services to the cloud.
[…] Easy Universal Print With The Revitalized Microsoft 365 Plansby Simon SkotheimsvikApril 17, 2023 […]
I have 2 questions:
1) Is there any method to inform the Universal Print Admin that the pooled print job allotment is reaching its limit, say an email when you reach 80% of this month’s jobs?
2) Is there a method to set a default printer based on IP addresses for users that roam locations?
Thanks for your feedback Paul Jensen!
1) I haven’t seen this yet, but you teased my mind with this question😎
It seems like this can be found through Microsoft Graph. The challenge will be to automate this with an account with Universal Print license which is necessary. However, one of the following queries seems to give the wanted information:
Get-MgPrintConnector -CountVariable CountVar -Top 0
Get-MgPrintPrinter -CountVariable CountVar -Top 0
Get-MgPrintShare -CountVariable CountVar -Top 0
2) This is answered in the FAQ for the Universal Print service. You can find the details here: https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/universal-print/fundamentals/universal-print-faqs#my-user-has-rights-to-use-hundreds-of-printers-in-various-locations–how-does-universal-print-offer-the-nearest-one-to-the-user-