Google's plot to change how we print

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Google is plotting to change the way we print by making it unnecessary to install print drivers on devices for use with particular printers. The company unveiled preliminary designs for a web-based service, Google Cloud Print, that would allow you to print from any device running the Google Chrome operating system (such as a netbook, tablet computer or smartphone) to any printer.  

"Developing and maintaining print subsystems for every combination of hardware and operating system--from desktops to netbooks to mobile devices--simply isn't feasible," Mike Jazayeri, Google group product manager said in the company's Chromium blog.    

Whatever application you are using would access the Cloud Print service, which would send the print job to the printer. For this to work well, printers would come with an Internet connection and support an open standard used by the Cloud Print service. As Frederic Lardinois at ReadWriteWeb notes, the open standard probably would enable other vendors to sell competing services fairly easily. Lardinois also points out that Hewlett-Packard talked about offering a cloud-based printing initiative at one time, but it didn't come to fruition.

The Chrome OS is scheduled to come with some netbooks by the end of the year, and there is talk that it may also come with some tablet computers this year. At the same time, rumors are afloat that there soon may be a tablet computer with Google's Android OS, reports eWeek's Clint Boulton. As Boulton remarks, it remains rather a mystery how Google intends to market the Android and Chrome systems. "Will they cannibalize each other as they seek to challenge Microsoft and Apple devices?" he asks.

Google's Jazayeri said in his blog post that the code and documentation for Cloud Print are being made public in keeping with the open-source Chromium 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."

Before we leave the subject of Google and its operating systems for now, if you want an earful on how Android is not as open as Google would suggest, take a look at this scathing post by Andreas Constantinou at VisionMobile. Constantinou describes eight "control points," including a closed review process, incomplete software, an anti-fragmentation agreement and a private roadmap, that he says allow Google to control the make-up of Android handsets. 

"[I]t's worth realising that Android is no more open--and no less closed--than Windows Mobile, Apple OSX or PalmOS; it's the smartest implementation of open source aimed at driving commercial agendas," he writes.

For more:
- see Mike Jazayeri's post at Google's Chromium blog
- see Frederic Lardinois' post at ReadWriteWeb
- see Clint Boulton's post at eWeek
- see Andreas Constantinou's post at VisionMobile

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