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Google moving closer to Chrome OS printing

Company is working on a cloud-based system that would let people print from Chrome OS without the need for local drivers.

How does one print from a cloud-based OS like Google's Chrome when you can't install a local printer driver? Google is getting closer toward the answer.

The company is in the midst of developing a Google Cloud Print system that would allow Chrome OS users to send documents from any device to their own local printers or to other shared printers. Rather than depend on local print drivers, Cloud Print would receive and manage print jobs on Google's end and send them back to a printer.

Now it's making some resources available to developers. In a Chromium Blog post Thursday, Google Group Product Manager Mike Jazayeri said:

Google Cloud Print is still under development, but today we are making code and documentation public as part of the open-source Chromium and Chromium OS projects. While we are still in the early days of this project, we want to be as transparent as possible about all aspects of our design and engage the community in identifying the right set of open standards to make cloud-based printing ubiquitous.

"Our goal is to build a printing experience that enables any app (Web, desktop, or mobile) on any device to print to any printer anywhere in the world," the company states on the Google Cloud Print page.

Conventional installed operating systems like Windows, Mac OS, and Linux require drivers to manage and print documents. But Chrome OS needs to take a different approach.

"Developing and maintaining print subsystems for every combination of hardware and operating system--from desktops to netbooks to mobile devices--simply isn't feasible," Jazayeri said.

The project is still in development mode, so final details have yet to be worked out. Google's Cloud Print page explains that the ideal solution would be to use cloud-aware printers that don't need a PC to communicate. But since there are no such devices as of yet, Google has been working on a way to use legacy, PC-dependent printers. In this scenario, a piece of software called a proxy would be installed as part of Chrome OS. The proxy would register your printer with Cloud Print, handle the print jobs, and then alert you on the status of each job.

Of course, this means you would need to be online in order to print from a PC, tablet, or smartphone running Chrome OS. But that is the nature of working in the cloud.

Announced late last year, Chrome OS is to due to debut on Netbooks by year's end.

How Google would handle printing from Chrome OS.
How Google would handle printing from Chrome OS. Once the print job is in the cloud, it goes through a PC or router to print. A cloud-based printer option is not yet a reality. Google