HP plans to announce an update to its printer management software along with a one-size-fits-all printer driver at its ImagePrint conference in Orlando, according to a company executive.
Web Jetadmin 8.0 added the ability to gather usage data on individual users or applications and assign privileges to them, instead of just the printer itself, director of marketing for HP's enterprise imaging and printing group, Tom Codd, said.
For example, an IT manager could allow colour printing only by members of the marketing department or only for documents created by a certain application, he said.
Users who were printing word processing documents or other everyday material could be restricted to black-and-white printing, which is far cheaper.
The updated version of the software also allows IT managers to get a better handle on the status of ink and toner supplies and automatically order new cartridges if the supply falls below a certain level. And now printers that weren't directly connected to a company network, but were connected to networked PCs, would show up in Web Jetadmin 8.0's management console, Codd said.
Printers are the last frontier in the quest to inventory all the technology assets within a company. As printers have become more sophisticated, similarly sophisticated software is required to manage those printers and to make sure companies have a handle on their printing costs.
Web Jetadmin is available as a free download from HP's website. (http://h10010.www1.hp.com/wwpc/pscmisc/vac/us/en/en/network_software/wja_overview.html)
As part of HP's announcement, the company was unveiling a Universal Print Driver, which would allow HP printer users to install a single driver that would work on just about any HP monochrome or colour printer produced since January 1997, Codd said.
Driver management was a huge headache for HP's customers, which often had dozens of different printers scattered throughout their organisations, Codd said. The Universal Print Driver was recommended for just about every HP printer customer managing a fleet of printers, he said.
Certain customers who needed tighter control over the shading of a color printer or the resolution of a black-and-white printer wouldl want to use the specific drivers for those printers, an HP spokesperson said.
The company believed these users made up an extremely small percentage of its customers, she said.
HP also announced that Web Jetadmin 8.0 will allow customers to manage a new series of digital projectors. The xp7000 series projectors start at $US1999 with Texas Instruments' digital light processing (DLP) technology, and the $US299 pn1050 Network Projector Manager network adapter was required to connect the projectors to a LAN through the universal serial bus (USB) port, Codd said.