Windows 2000 provides many new features, such as Active Directory, that Windows 9x/NT 4.0 users could only dream of. Not as well publicized are the improvements in the way you do mundane tasks such as printing. But for those who’ve had it on their “wish list” for a long time, one of the most exciting new features of Windows 2000 is Internet Printing. Previously, you could send a print job to a printer on your local area network (LAN), but now you can use a printer located anywhere on the Internet (although the same technology can also be used to print to a printer on your TCP/IP-based LAN). In this Daily Feature, I will show you how to use Internet Printing to expand your printing capabilities by sending print jobs across the Internet.

Why use Internet Printing?
There are many uses for Internet Printing. For example, instead of faxing long documents to an out-of-town business associate’s office, you can send the document directly to his or her printer, saving long-distance phone charges. Telecommuters and traveling employees who don’t have printers attached to the computers they’re working on can send documents directly to the company’s laser printer. Instead of printing a report and mailing it to a client, you can print it directly to the client’s printer and save both time and postal costs.
Internet Printing is also referred to as Web-based printing. You can connect to printers via the Internet Explorer (version 4.0 or above) Web browser. Administrators can also manage printers across the Internet from the browser.
A brief history of Internet Printing for Windows
In 1999, Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft teamed up to release an implementation of the Internet Printing Protocol (IPP), version 1, to provide Internet print drivers for Windows platforms and to allow URL-based printing across a network. The Printer Working Group (PWG), a consortium of printing-related companies, developed IPP.

The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) has approved IPP as a standard and has established a working group to define specifications for Internet Printing and IPP. RFC 2567 discusses design goals for a standardized IPP.

How does Internet Printing work?
When you print to a printer on your local network, you usually locate it using a “friendly” NetBIOS or DNS name. With Internet Printing, printers are identified by a Uniform Resource Locator (URL), using the familiar format: http://<print server name>/Printers/<share name>/printer.

Internet Printing uses a client/server architecture. The print server can be a Windows 2000 computer to which the printer is connected. It must be running either of the following:

  • Internet Information Services (IIS)
  • Peer Web Services (PWS)

Hewlett-Packard JetDirect TCP/IP print servers can also provide Internet Printing services.

In order to print across the Internet, the client must support IPP. Windows 9x and 2000 computers support IPP. Windows 2000 Internet Printing uses IPP as a low-level protocol. IPP is used to send print jobs and manage printers across the network. When it travels across the network, the IPP data is encapsulated inside an HTTP packet.

IPP also provides management capabilities by generating print job information in the HTTP format. This makes it easy for administrators and users to view the information with their Web browsers.

Internet Printing and security
There are two aspects involved in securing the Windows 2000 print server: authentication and permissions. Authentication is implemented through IIS or PWS. You can allow anonymous users to access the printer, or you can restrict use to only authenticated users (those who have an account in your Windows 2000 domain). You can provide high security by requiring Kerberos or MS-CHAP authentication. Internet Explorer supports both methods. However, if you have users who will need to print using other browsers, you’ll have to allow basic authentication.

You can set permissions on the printer as you would any other shared network printer. In the Printers folder on the print server, right-click the Internet printer and choose Properties and then select the Security tab (Figure A).

Figure A
You can set permissions on an Internet printer as you would on any other shared printer.

You can block anonymous users by denying them all permissions to the printer. To do so, on the Security tab, click the Add button, click Anonymous Logon in the Name list, and click OK. Then select Anonymous Logon and select the Deny check boxes for Print, Manage Printers, and Manage Documents (Figure B).

Figure B
To block anonymous users, deny all permissions to the Anonymous Logon account.

Internet Printing provides many benefits, but it can be a security risk if your network contains sensitive data. To disable Web-based printing, an administrator can use Group Policy.
Implementing Internet Printing
Implementing Internet Printing involves two steps:

  • Setting up the print server and “publishing” the print server to the Internet
  • Connecting to the print server from the client via the Web browser

Configuring an Internet print server
To configure the print server (if the Web server component isn’t installed), install IIS on the Windows 2000 computer via the Add/Remove Programs applet in Control Panel (select Windows Components). Ensure that the service is started and running. You will need to register the print server’s name with DNS, and if your network is protected by a firewall, you must configure it to allow access to the print server.

Use the Add Printer wizard to install the printer on the print server. The printer will appear in the Printers folder. Share the printer and set permissions as described above.

Connecting to an Internet printer
To connect to a printer across the Internet, open your Web browser on the client machine and provide the URL for the specific printer. If you don’t know the printer’s name, you can see the available printers on a server by typing http://<servername>/printers in the Address box (Figure C). In our example, the server name is “constellation.”

Figure C
You can connect to a shared printer across the Internet via your Web browser.

Select the name of the printer you want to connect to, and then click Connect under Printer Actions on the left side of the screen. If you have not previously connected to the printer, the drivers will be automatically downloaded to the client and a message will notify you that the printer has been installed on your machine (Figure D).

Figure D
The printer drivers are automatically downloaded and installed to the client machine.

The printer will now appear in the Printers folder on the client machine and in the drop-down list box of available printers that appears when you select the Print option in an application. You can print to the Internet printer as you would print to any other available printer.

Managing Internet printers remotely
When you access the printer via the Web, you can manage both the printer and documents (if you have appropriate permissions). You can:

  • View a list of queued documents.
  • View the properties of the printer.
  • Pause or resume a print job.
  • Cancel all documents.

To see the properties of a document in the queue, click its name.

Windows 2000 makes it easy to print to a Windows 2000 print server across the Internet or another TCP/IP network using Windows 9x or 2000. The ability to print to an Internet printer can save time and money, and the ability to manage printers remotely via the Web makes an administrator’s job easier. When deciding whether to enable Internet Printing, consider if you can afford the security risk.
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