Update: Google drafts cloud printing plan for Chrome OS

The goal of Google Cloud Print is to let users print from any Web, desktop, or mobile application to any printer without the need for device drivers

Google is unveiling early-stage designs, software code, and documentation of a project whose goal is to let users of the company's Chrome OS print documents to any printer from any application.

Called Google Cloud Print, the technology would dispense with the need to install printer drivers by routing print jobs from Web, desktop, and mobile applications via a Chrome OS Web-hosted broker.

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"Rather than rely on the local operating system -- or drivers -- to print, apps can use Google Cloud Print to submit and manage print jobs. Google Cloud Print will then be responsible for sending the print job to the appropriate printer with the particular options the user selected, and returning the job status to the app," wrote Google Product Manager Mike Jazayeri in an official blog post.

While Google Cloud Print is still in its "early days," the company wants to engage interested developers and vendors in the process of developing this technology, according to Jazayeri.

Carl Howe, a Yankee Group analyst, said that it's smart of Google to envision printing as a cloud service instead of as a device.

"That's particularly key for netbooks and tablets that don't have printer ports or room for printer connectors," Howe said via e-mail. "It's just another example of how the new world of 'anywhere' computing is rapidly jettisoning our PC-conceived notions of how to do things."

Google released the open source Chrome OS to developers in November of last year. The first netbooks that run the OS are expected to hit the market late this year.

Chrome OS has been designed from the ground up for cloud computing, so it will only run Web-hosted applications. A big question has been how Chrome OS will interact with peripherals such as printers.

This story was updated on April 16, 2010.

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