Universal Print: Cloud Print Management – Part 2

In the previous article related to the Universal Print solution, we talked about the advantages that this solution can bring to companies regarding the management of print processes and the potential deprovisioning of on-premise infrastructures; in this second part dedicated to the solution, we provide the necessary indications on how to assign printers to your users in the currently available modes.

Figure 1 – Universal Print overview

Universal Print offers the ability to assign a printer based on its location so that it is automatically assigned based on where the user is. To take advantage of this feature, the IT Admin can use the filters currently available such as Country, City, Building, Floor, etc … or by directly entering the latitude and longitude of the printer(s); alternatively, GPS-based location can also be used. To take advantage of this latest type, location must be enabled on Windows 10 systems.

Manual assignment

The assignment of printers can be done manually through the appropriate Printers & scanners section available on Windows 10 systems; the printers assigned to the user will be automatically detected once the Add Printers button is pressed.

Figure 2 – Add Universal Print printers

Once the printers are visible on the system, the users will be able to print as if they were present in office without any direct connection with the on-premise infrastructure.
Selecting the printer interested, through the appropriate Universal Print – Printers section on the Azure portal, and by accessing the Jobs area, you can view the status and respective details of the various print jobs:

Figure 3 – Universal Print job section

A print job remains in the queue for a few days; if the job is not requested from the printer within three days, it is categorized as Aborted. It should also be noted that Universal Print stores all queues within Office data storage; this space is the same used for archiving mailboxes on Office 365 and files on OneDrive.

Assignment through Microsoft Endpoint Manager

Obviously, the manual registration procedure is particularly time consuming in Enterprise scenario. For this reason, Microsoft has made available a provisioning tool that automates the process of assigning printers to users and can be deployed through the Microsoft Endpoint Manager platform.

As for automatic assignment mode, it is necessary to distribute the provisioning tool through Microsoft Endpoint Manager; it will also be necessary to fill in a special .csv file that will allow automatic mapping of printers to their respective users or groups.

Below we provide the main steps to be able to conduct these activities:

  • Download the Universal Print provisioning tool and related files (available at the following link);
  • Proceed with the unzip of the contents of the SamplePolicy.zip file;
  • Proceed with compiling the printers.csv file by entering the following information for each row in the respective columns:
    • SharedID: enter the Share Id value of the printer;
    • SharedName: enter the Printer Share Name value that identifies the printer;
    • IsDefault: enter the values Yes or No to indicate the default printer;

The first 2 values (Share Id and Printer Share Name) are available in the Overview area of the respective printer within the Universal Print section on the Azure portal.

At this point, it is possible to proceed with the conversion of the provisioning tool in order to allow its upload and subsequent distribution through the Microsoft Endpoint Manager:

  • Download the conversion tool called Microsoft Win32 Content Prep Tool (available at the following link);
Figure 4 – Win32 Content Prep Tool
  • Unzip the content;
  • Open a command prompt in the administrative context;
  • Go to the folder where the unzip was performed;
  • Run the IntuneWinAppUtil.exe file and enter the required values:
    • Source Folder: folder where the previously unpacked files are present;
    • Setup file: indicate the path of the InstallPolicy.cmd file;
    • Output Folder: folder where the package will be generated to upload to the Microsoft Endpoint Manager portal;
Figure 5/6 – Conversion process through Win32 Content Prep Tool
  • Once the conversion process is complete, the package .intunewin will be available within the defined folder and will be ready to be uploaded to the Microsoft Endpoint Manager portal;

At this point, it is necessary to proceed with the creation of two Win32 apps on the portal to allow the distribution of the Universal Print provisioning tool and the files necessary for mapping the printers:

  • Access the Microsoft Endpoint Manager portal (link).
  • Access the Apps – All Apps section and press the Add button.
  • From the drop-down menu, select the type Windows app (Win32).
  • Click on Select app package file and upload the .intunewin file relating to the Universal Print Provisioning tool downloaded previously.
  • Press the OK button.
  • Enter the Publisher name and click the Next button.
  • The fields relating to the installation and uninstallation command line will be populated automatically.
  • Press the Next button again.
  • Select the architecture of the target operating system and the minimum version of the OS from the drop-down menu.
  • Continue with the wizard through the Next button.
  • From the Rules format pull-down menu select Manually configure detection rules and press the Add button.
  • From the Rule type pull-down menu select MSI (the remaining fields will be filled in automatically) and confirm with the OK button.
  • Continue with the wizard and assign the package in Required mode to the group of users concerned.
  • Press Create button;

To create the Win32 app relating to the distribution of the files necessary for mapping the printers, follow the procedure above, making sure to fill in the parameters indicated below:

Program section:

  • Install command:
    • InstallPolicy.cmd user install (for installation in user context)
    • InstallPolicy.cmd device install (for installation in device context)
  • Uninstall command:
    • InstallPolicy.cmd user uninstall (for removal in user context)
    • InstallPolicy.cmd device uninstall (for removal in device context)
  • Install behavior:
    • User (user context)
    • System (system context)

Detection section:

  • Rules format: Manually configure detection rules
  • Rule type: File
  • Path:%AppData%\UniversalPrintPrinterProvisioning\Configuration
  • File or folder: printers.csv
  • Detection Method: Select File or folder exists

References

Here are some useful references to the official Microsoft documentation:

Conclusions

In this second article we have seen how to assign printer with the Universal Print solution. Through the adoption of a management solution such as Microsoft Endpoint Manager, it is possible to distribute the necessary printers automatically, without any iteration and further improving the user-experience provided.

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