The first time I heard about Windows 2000's Internet printing feature, I wrote it off in my mind as a useless feature. However, I was wrong. I recently discovered that Internet printing is much more useful than I had ever imagined. In this article, I'll discuss why Internet printing is so handy. I'll then go on to explain how Internet printing works.
Is it Necessary?
I previously dismissed Internet printing as useless because I saw it as merely an alternative to E-mail and faxing. For example, suppose you were in a hotel room doing some work and you needed to send a document to your office. In the past, you could either fax it or E-mail it. As you're no doubt aware, both of these operations can be accomplished easily from a laptop without the need for a printer. Therefore, I always wondered why I should bother with Internet printing when I could simply send a document to the fax machine at the office.
However, I recently attended the fall COMDEX in Las Vegas. The hotel where I was staying announced that it offered Internet printing capability. This meant that it was possible to sign on with my ISP and send a print job to the hotel's printer via the Internet. Room service would then deliver the print job to my room. I realized that such a feature could be very handy for business travelers who need to prepare documents on the go. Such travelers can finally stop lugging portable printers through the airport.
A Trial Run
Being the curious type, I decided to try out the hotel's Internet printing capabilities. I was thoroughly impressed with what I saw. I initiated the process by simply opening my Web browser and then entering the URL of the hotel's print server. When I did, I was presented with a list of the hotel's Internet-enabled printers.
However, it went beyond being just a listthe print server takes full advantage of the hotel's Active Directory and the Internet Printing Protocol and allows you to fully interact with the printer from across the Web in a similar manner to any other network printer. For example, by clicking on any printer on the list, you can see a screen displaying information about the printer that was pulled directly from the Active Directory. This information includes things like the printer's location, whether the printer supports color, the number of pages per minute the printer can print, and how many documents are in the print queue.
Using Internet Printing
If you decide to print to an Internet printer, simply click the Connect option. When you do, the Point and Print algorithm kicks in, the same way it does for any other network printer. This function installs the print driver and sets up the printer automatically. You're then free to print to the printer from your applications in the usual manner. While you're printing, you can even use the printer's URL to perform basic maintenance such as canceling or pausing a print job.
So why is Internet printing so much better than faxing? Because you're no longer limited by a fax machine's quality limitations. You're finally free to take advantage of features such as color, high resolution, and double-sided printing. //
Brien M. Posey is an MCSE who works as a freelance writer. His past experience includes working as the director of information systems for a national chain of health care facilities and as a network engineer for the Department of Defense. Because of the extremely high volume of e-mail that Brien receives, it's impossible for him to respond to every message, although he does read them all.