back to article Microsoft's latest cloud innovation: Printing

Universal Print, a new Microsoft Azure service now in private preview, allows printers to be registered with Azure Active Directory so users can print to them via the cloud. "Universal print moves key Windows Server print functionality to the Microsoft 365 cloud so organizations no longer need on-premises print servers and do …

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  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Windows 365 Cloud ?

    Oh Yes. That's the one that prevents me sending an e-mail to my child's school because the school's O365 Cloud bounces it as junk/spam.

    At least they have more sense in Germany: German schools ban Microsoft Office 365 amid privacy concerns.

    1. veti Silver badge

      Re: Windows 365 Cloud ?

      That's not necessarily O365's fault. Most installations use a third-party spam filtering system, such as Barracuda or SpamAssassin.

      Face it, email - as a way to communicate with people you actually want to communicate with - is broken. It's been crushed by the sheer weight of spam. The only email addresses that have a reasonable chance of working are those that are never published, which means they must have been given to you privately.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Windows 365 Cloud ?

        Nope. Looks like an M$ outlook.com server filter to me.

        Server refused mail at END OF DATA - 550 5.4.1 All recipient addresses rejected : Access denied. AS(XXXXXXXXX) [AM5XXXXXXXXXX.eop-EUR03.prod.protection.outlook.com]

        1. DougMac

          Re: Windows 365 Cloud ?

          Microsoft maintains their own, and all the big email players have moved to their own inhouse filtering/RBL. External filters and RBLs are only in use by companies that haven't migrated into one of the big players.

          OOTH, Microsoft's Postmaster services actually can clear out blocks if you know how to work their system (which is draconianly difficult). As opposed to say, Google, which tosses their hands up in the air and say maybe it'll clear in a day, week, month, we dunno.

          Anybody putting something in front of the Microsoft setup is probably not using it right as designed, which requires end users training it (ie. flagging SPAM, moving HAM out of SPAM folders, etc). Many users don't want to bother training their SPAM filter, so they throw something else in front.

  3. JakeMS
    Joke

    Support call

    I predict..

    *ring ring*

    User: Hi, I can't print I sent to the printer and it didn't work.

    Support: Have you tried turning it on and off again?

    User: Yes I turned the computer on and off again, I pressed the button on the screen.

    Support: Okay please use the start menu to reboot....

    10 minutes later.......

    Okay now click print.

    User: No page printed.

    Support: ... yes it did.

    User: I can't see it (looks under frantically printer like a mad man)

    Support: No no no, I mean it printed here in India, next to me. Which printer did you click?

    User: I clicked the one called Cloud, because my wallpaper has a picture of a cloud on it.

    Support: Is that so? That's nice. Now please click the one that says ID 66, 6, which is your building and floor.

    User: It worked!

    Support: Your welcome, please enjoy your day, live long and prosper.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Support call

      you forgot to ask if there was a child in the house (the '12:00' flasher - so-named because EVERYTHING! IN! THE! HOUSE! IS! ALWAYS! FLASHING! '12:00' !!!)

      then again, I'd expect several more hours of typing on both ends before something this simple gets resolved.

      1. DJV Silver badge

        Re: Support call

        Oh, you mean this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wp-uKlhXvmo

    2. OssianScotland Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: Support call

      I have met the same with "printer pooling" where identical print devices are put in a single queue, and users pick up from one of them (obviously this requires a print room with all the devices in it). Enter a junior admin with a shiny new MCP (Server 2003). His train of thought was along the lines of:

      I've got a printer in Mumbai...

      Ooh, Aberdeen has the same make and model....

      I can set up printer pooling....

      The rest, as they say, is history.

      (Icon just for the hell of it)

      1. J. Cook Silver badge

        Re: Support call

        This makes the (former) print admin in me cry.

        I say former, because I off-loaded that to my PFY about a year ago and haven't looked back.

  4. mevets

    Café au nuage

    I am deploying a cloud based coffee service to eliminate elaborate on prem coffee production. Soon you will tap a coffee icon, and your cloud provider constructs and transports your preferred beverage to your desk. It will save so much money and energy, I might be able to sell carbon offsets.

    1. David Bird

      Re: Café au nuage

      Don't forget the regular hyper-descaling.

    2. TwistedPsycho

      Re: Café au nuage

      To be serious for a moment, I am surprised Tassimo or Nespresso have not developed a solution to remote order a coffee from a machine.

      It makes it as you walk over, tap your employee password and it is already made and ready.... or once every 30 minutes the designated delivery service agent brings it to your desk....

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Café au nuage

        "or once every 30 minutes the designated delivery service agent"

        Do they look like George Clooney?

    3. katrinab Silver badge
      Alert

      Re: Café au nuage

      Deliveroo have beaten you to it.

      For £5.83, I can get a Costa Coffee coffee delivered to my door.

      Other takeaway delivery services also exist.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Café au nuage

        Wasn't one of the very first web cams used to check the status of a coffee pot?

        Just googled, and it is!

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trojan_Room_coffee_pot

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Café au nuage

          The necessity of caffeine is the mother of invention.

        2. jake Silver badge

          Re: Café au nuage

          It was an idea that long pre-dated the new-fangled Web ...

          Tresidder Union, Stanford, late 1976 or early 1977ish. CROMEMCO Cyclops camera "focused" on the coke machine. When the door was opened & closed a microswitch tripped and notified a computer (IMSAI? MITS? Heath? I can't remember. Something cheap & cheerful.). The computer waited a minute and then took a picture of the coke machine. This was to see if the "out of soda" LEDs were still lit under your cold fizzy of choice[0]. This image was sent automatically via FTP (over NCP, TCP/IP was still in the process of being invented) to every FTP host on the list. If you knew how, you could request an update at any time. This special request photo would only be sent to the FTP space of the requester.

          Building this thing seemed to be a no-brainer at the time, hardly even worthy of being called a "hack". It didn't work worth a shit, because the resolution was so low. Once in a while, if you aligned it just right, you could see if an LED (or two) was on, meaning there was no soda in that slot. If the LED went out, the slot had been refilled ... or something had jiggled the camera. It was up to the user to figure out how to get their particular FTP host to notify them that an image was waiting ... and indeed how to convince their console of choice to display the image.

          [0] Dr. Pepper was a favorite of the grad students at the time, and was nearly always sold out. When the camera reported it had been refilled there was a mad dash for the machine ... so I guess the silly kludge worked. It was only operational for a couple weeks.

      2. katrinab Silver badge
        Alert

        Re: Café au nuage

        Über Eats will deliver a Starbucks to me for £5.70.

        Just Eat will deliver a Greggs coffee for £1.60

        Looks like this is already very definitely a thing.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Café au nuage

          Sad thing is that pretty much anyone can make a cup of drinkable coffee and enjoy it for under 25¢ (19p) in less time than it takes to have the nearly undrinkable commercial swill delivered.

  5. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Joke

    Wunderbar!

    See that wheel? Microsoft has just reinvented it (again)

    Back in the day... and long before MS was even a wet dream to Bill Gates, we used to put jobs into Mainframe on Punched cards. Sometime later, the cards and the resulting printout was put into a tray for collection.

    I see something like this happening in big organisations. The 'printer delivery person' will come round with your output hours (or days) later, get you to sign a chitty so that the cost can be properly allocated before handing over your output... only for you to find that it isn't yours or that there is a glaring error on the first page and you have to go through it all again. (or variances thereof)

    Progress, isn't it wonderbar

    1. LDS Silver badge

      "'printer delivery person"

      Right, but now that man will not be an employee, but someone outsourced to Printerlooox via an app....

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: Wunderbar!

      Amdahl had a largish printing facility just off Central Expressway in Sunnyvale (Cupertino?) in the 1980s. Virtually every mainframe print-job generated within the company, world-wide, was printed at said facility, and then next-dayed to whatever office had requested the print job. They had several gawdawfulfast channel attached printers, and a fleet of trucks delivering & sending out paper. Was awesome to watch in full-swing, if you had adequate ear protection.

      However ... it sounded daft then, and still sounds daft now.

  6. bombastic bob Silver badge
    FAIL

    How long until...

    "allows printers to be registered with Azure Active Directory so users can print to them via the cloud."

    How long until your "registered printer" either requires a SUBSCRIPTION FEE, or lets you RECEIVE JUNK FAXES...?

    Yeah, register your COMPUTER on "Teh Intarweb" by logging in with Google or Microsoft Logon or some OTHER such "cloudy let you guys know what I'm diong right now" "service", which NOW includes YOUR PRINTER, which (I expect) CONVENIENTLY can be HIJACKED by a 3rd party that pays for (or steals) the knowledge about YOU and YOUR PRINTER, yotta yotta yotta.

    Micro-shaft: Your past history with respect to OUR PRIVACY is already DISMAL. You want to ADD MORE TO THAT ???

    [how about BUILD THE INTELLIGENCE INTO THE OS instead - NOT involving "cloudy ANYTHING"]

    1. mevets

      Re: How long until...

      They did try and pour all of their intelligence into the OS, and that didn't really turn out so well. Whether it was a shortfall of intelligence, or something else, it became a hostile goo. A benefit of the Azure model is to use software that actually works without admitting it isn't theirs. This will only last until pride forces them to put host the print services on their own software, thus joining little pools of hostile goo into an ocean of it. Heady days.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: How long until...

        You'd think they'd learn. Remember the debacle when they moved Hotmail from BSD to Redmond's own code?

        Microsoft can't be trusted to build a decent desktop system, so what is it that makes anybody think they can do networking properly? Compatibility? I guess that's one answer ... if you're expecting shit to be compatible with more shit ...

        1. Snake Silver badge

          Re: You think they'd learn....

          Just a while ago we were dealing with malware that infected internet-accessible printers

          https://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/09/15/hacking_printers_to_play_doom/

          and more. Does anyone besides me remember?? So we are told to secure any unnecessarily internet-connected printers.

          And now they want us to go back and drop those same machines back on the internet.

          History always repeats itself because humans are STUPID.

  7. Piro

    Right, so send a document up to a server on the internet

    .. and then download the data again to a local printer.

    No. I hate all this inelegant "cloud" rubbish. Just stop.

    Printers are enough of a pain in the arse without reliance on a sodding internet connection and some stupid Windows "cloud" service in the picture. I pretty much don't have to deal with printers at all these days, though.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Right, so send a document up to a server on the internet

      You're right, but if you're moving your servers to the cloud, including DCs and print servers, you no longer have anything on-premises to manage the printers (as software devices) deploy and print queues.

      Moreover they can process through AI all those documents you thought never left your local PC....

      Just you can't any longer put printers in a network with no internet access.

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: Right, so send a document up to a server on the internet

        There seems to be a trend for going backwards.... a long way.

        Quite a few decades back (about 5) I worked for a Quantity Surveyor, we had a teletype machine in the basement, where I used to collate a load of paperwork for a contract and then type it in to London Uni. The company rented space and labour on their mainframe where calculations were made, things done and then the whole lot was sent back to our printer that would chatter away for a bit and produce a stack of dead tree stuff. Sounds reasonably similar to me.

        A couple of times we ended up with piles of print that belonged to other people.

      2. katrinab Silver badge
        Flame

        Re: Right, so send a document up to a server on the internet

        Can't they licence or reverse-engineer Apple's airprint?

        Unbox printer

        Remove about half a bin bag of proctective packaging stuff from it

        Plug it into the mains

        Plut it into the network switch

        You have a working printer that you can print to.

    2. AMBxx Silver badge

      Re: Right, so send a document up to a server on the internet

      I miss the days when a printer was directly plugged into the back of a PC. Always worked and none of this mucking about with pools and the differences between printers and print devices.

  8. JohnFen Silver badge

    Lord, no

    There are many, many things that having the cloud be involved with brings little or no value to. Printing is one of them.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Lord, no

      Pretty much anything that would add at least one more layer to my corporate security (and often several more layers), and thus increase the size and quantity of potential attack vectors, is contraindicated.

      So the so-called "cloud" snake-oil is right out, in all its guises.

      1. jonathan keith Silver badge

        Re: Lord, no

        There's a reason why I disable Web Services on all our printers.

  9. conscience

    I couldn't have put it better myself, Piro.

    This is absolutely insane, so it is very typical of Microsoft. But what's the point?

    Besides relieving you of the monthly subscription cash, the only real reason I can think of for this is that Microsoft want even more of your data to slurp.

    There are more downsides than upsides to this. No doubt people will now be able to look forward to watching in horror as they can't do whatever they need to do because they will lose all print capability every time they lose their net connection... thanks Microsoft! Have MS learned nothing from the recent debacle on Windows 10 when local search broke because Bing was borked? And how is replacing a tiny local printer driver with a full blown local printer proxy application a better way of doing things?

    It is no wonder manufacturers like Canon are interested though, they probably can't believe anyone would be daft enough to sign up and pay for this lunacy, but if it is successful Canon would be absolutely delighted to rent you their printer drivers on a monthly basis in the future - and for the rest of time! *shakes head*

    1. Erik4872

      "This is absolutely insane, so it is very typical of Microsoft. But what's the point?"

      The point is to cater to "cloud first" businesses who already want everything running in the cloud. Allowing Azure AD to do more things without regular AD allows them to take servers off-prem, forcing you to subscribe to their service every month. Azure Site Recovery and OneDrive are amazing tools given the right use cases, but they have the same goal...remove anything that the end user can run by paying a license fee once.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Exactly. This is just an extra service that some people have a use case for. If the use case isn't for you, then don't use it.

  10. Def Silver badge

    At the office where I work there's a printer. I can print stuff (we're very technically orientated, you know) from my laptop, wander over to the print room, swipe my ID card on the printer, and it'll print what I sent it.

    If this means I can send things (and stuff) from anywhere in the world without having to log on to the corporate network and have them waiting for me when I return - like travel compensation forms, for example - then I can see how this might benefit me personally.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Ours is very similar, with one difference - the print queue we print to is essentially a "cloud" print queue. Advantage: walk up to ANY printer, and print out from there. Disadvantages: external network or badge reader issues prevent printing, and I have to stand there waiting for the printer to wake up, log me in, manually select which print jobs I want to print (all of them, always!), warm up, and print instead of it finishing about the time I step up to the printer.

      I really long for the days when I printed to the print queue of my choice, and simply grabbed the paper when it came out.

      1. Def Silver badge

        I guess ours is cloudy too. I only discovered the one printer room so far, but given we have seven floors of employees in this office alone, I have to assume there are others.

  11. ComputerSays_noAbsolutelyNo
    Paris Hilton

    Why, just why?

    So, for me to print a PDF from my on-premise workstation or laptop: I have to send the print-job to the magical cloud in cloud-magic-land, which in turn sends the print job to the on-premise printer?

    What would be the benefit of cloud-printing?

    1. Giles C

      Re: Why, just why?

      Having seen some print jobs from a training department 100+ page double sided documents 30 odd copies. It is obvious cloud printing will bring your internet link to such a slow rate that you won’t be able to watch cat videos!

      Seriously what are these people on, just print to the devices up address and save on the infrastructure

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Re: Why, just why?

        Here when COVID-19 became an issue, "smart" companies putting white collars employees on "smart" working are finding they have not the bandwidth to support them....

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Why, just why?

          But COVID-19 is not now, never has been, and never will be a major issue. See here for the reality, which for some reason the News wants to blow way out of proportion.

          It's the fucking flu. That's all. Humans have survived flu outbreaks for (probably) a couple million years WITHOUT modern medicine.

          This particular strain is less fatal than it's corona-cousins, MERS and SARS, were ... and we survived those outbreaks just fine. The so-called "bird flu" was worse, and yet despite the doom-sayers predictions of catastrophe, we survived. Whodathunkit?

          Note that that area of the world is well known for heavy smog and very high rate of tobacco use. Chances are the respiratory systems of the victims were compromised prior to infection. The fact that most of the deaths have been among the elderly, and that there have been no kids under the age of ten reported in the list of deceased tends to support this.

          If you get sick and do not have a compromised immune system or respiratory problems, stay warm and dry, get plenty of rest and drink plenty of fluids. You'll most likely survive just fine, with a slightly stronger immune system as a result. I'm not a doctor, this is not a prescription, but my Grandmothers and their sprog survived all kinds of far worse outbreaks just fine with little more than the above.

          It's a perspective thing ... Take a step back and get a better look at the issue. It'll do all y'all a world of good.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Why, just why?

            The death rate is less than SARS, MERS and some strains of flu, but its rate of spread is much faster. It appears to be far easier to get infected. A lot more people will catch it, so more people will die. The number of deaths is already higher than SARS.

            So yes, if you get it you will probably survive unless you are old, already have health issues or are unlucky. This doesn't diminish from the fact though that thousands have already died, and thousands more are likely to.

          2. veti Silver badge

            Re: Why, just why?

            COVID-19 has killed more people, in less than 3 months, than SARS and MERS put together managed in the past ten years. In what sense is that "less fatal"?

            The Chinese are now saying that the mortality rate is about 2.3%, which is admittedly a lot lower than SARS, but the infection rate is way higher. And even that mortality rate doesn't seem to match the published stats, which put the ratio of deaths to recoveries at more like 6%.

          3. John H Woods Silver badge

            Re: Why, just why?

            Jake - the point of being careful about Covid19 is to avoid being partly responsible for the deaths of other, more vulnerable people. You may be as strong as an ox, and have no worry about catching it. I don't worry that much either. I worry about spreading it.

            Technical note: it isn't the flu. And you really don't know enough biology to be spouitng an opinion on it.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There's so little holding us to on-premise iron - print servers are one of the few remaining services that still demand on-prem servers and AD groups to work. If we can drop these then it's woth a look.

  13. IGotOut

    Can't wait

    until marketing send the latest 60page A3 double sided 500 run document. You know the one, the one with all the images in tiff format resized to fit the document by dragging in the edges.

    Yes, I had seem documents that ran into the 10's of Gb because of crap like this.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Can't wait

      Nah, they usually only run to a few GB that way... the 10s of GBs are because people drag the file into a folder containing the file, into a folder containing the folder containing the folder containing the file, containing the HDD backups. (It's duplication all the way down......)

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good timing, just as google announces its cloud printing solution is being shuttered, and sent to the google graveyard.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Is that the Google graveyard in the sky? Amongst the clouds?

  15. steviebuk Silver badge

    How long before

    A company implements this where the directors have decide, over IT, that the failover line will be the same provider as the main line. Ignoring the point of the fucking failover. So when BT goes down, lets hop over to the failover line......OH....that's BT as well.

    Not only can you now not use your cloud 365 solution, you also can't fucking print anything.

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