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Net printing technology on the way

Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard say a long-awaited Internet printing technology is finally making its way to consumers.

Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard said today that a long-awaited Internet printing technology is finally making its way to consumers.

The Internet Printing Protocol (IPP), first proposed more than two years ago, is intended to simplify document delivery by linking network printers directly to the Internet. In essence, printers become Web servers.

Instead of transmitting documents to fax machines, as email attachments, or via overnight mail delivery, IPP lets users send documents across the Internet directly to IPP-equipped printers which can correctly reproduce formatted replicas of documents. Businesses can connect IPP-enabled printers to the Internet so that traveling employees can send documents straight to the office. Or, hotels can offer high-quality printing services to guests who can email presentations to hotel-operated printers.

Microsoft plans to integrate IPP into its Windows 2000, Windows 98 Second Edition, Windows 98, and Windows 95 operating systems. A beta version of IPP for Windows 2000 is included in the latest beta version of Windows 2000 Professional and Windows 2000 Server.

Final versions of IPP for Windows 98 Second Edition and Windows 98 are posted to Microsoft's Windows Update Web site. A Windows 95 version can be downloaded from the company's Web site.

Hewlett-Packard said it already offers IPP support through its JetDirect series of print servers. Print servers attach to ordinary networked laser printers to coordinate printing tasks.