HP upgrades print management software and drivers

Web Jetadmin 8.0 adds the ability to assign privileges to individual users

Hewlett-Packard 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 on Wednesday, according to a company executive.

Web Jetadmin 8.0 adds the ability to gather usage data on individual users or applications and assign privileges to them, instead of just the printer itself, said Tom Codd, director of marketing for HP's enterprise imaging and printing group. For example, an IT manager could allow color 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 aren't directly connected to a company network, but are connected to networked PCs, will 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 Web site. (http://h10010.www1.hp.com/wwpc/pscmisc/vac/us/en/en/network_software/wja_overview.html)

As part of HP's announcement, the company is unveiling a Universal Print Driver, which will allow HP printer users to install a single driver that will work on just about any HP monochrome or color printer produced since January 1997, Codd said.

Driver management is a huge headache for HP's customers, which often have dozens of different printers scattered throughout their organizations, Codd said. The Universal Print Driver is recommended for just about every HP printer customer managing a fleet of printers, he said.

Certain customers who need tighter control over the shading of a color printer or the resolution of a black-and-white printer will want to use the specific drivers for those printers, an HP spokeswoman said. The company believes these users make up an extremely small percentage of their 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 $1,999 with Texas Instruments Inc.'s DLP (digital light processing) technology, and the $299 pn1050 Network Projector Manager network adapter is required to connect the projectors to a LAN through the USB (universal serial bus) port, Codd said.

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