As of January 1, 2021, users who rely on Google Cloud Print will need to find another printing solution, following Google indicating it will be killing service December 31, 2020. That's according to various reports based on online support documentation for Chrome Enterprise. The documentation doesn't only apply to enterprise customers though. Google says the death knell is tolling for all platforms and operating systems.
Is killing Cloud Print a hindrance or a solutions-based fix?
Because Chrome OS is heavily dependant on Cloud Print, the biggest impact of the announcement will arguably apply to Chromebooks. In fact, many companies have released printers expressly compatible with Google Cloud Print as a marketed feature. Google killing off Cloud Print effectively eliminates that feature as of the beginning of 2021.
Summarily, for Chrome OS users, Google Cloud Print serves as the easiest way to print from anywhere.
Google isn't abandoning Chrome OS users entirely. But the company only presently plans its initial fix to work for enterprise users. By the end of 2019, the company expects to have a whole slew of features available on that end.
That includes an administrative console UI for managing Common UNIX Printing System (CUPS)-based printers. The company is removing the current 20-printer cap. Those will be manageable "by organizational unit."
The solution will include policies to manage print defaults for duplex printing and color settings. Advanced printing attributes will be included too, including everything from PIN code printing to header management and third-party printing features.
Chrome OS isn't the only affected platform though. Users also take advantage of Cloud Print on mobile devices and elsewhere. The service has been in beta since 2010. It essentially allows any device to utilize Chrome and print to any printer that's been connected. That has made printing from anywhere there's a viable connection from a connected account possible — epitomizing what cloud-based printing is.
So users on other platforms will need to find additional solutions. Google will be developing APIs for third-party developers moving forward. But Google hasn't provided a firm timeline for that aside from promising that and more before the 2021 deadline.
Time for Chrome OS users to invest in a new printer?
None of that necessarily indicates that Chrome OS users need to worry about investing in a new printer. It also doesn't mean this is necessarily a bad move. The current process for connecting a printer to a Chromebook or other Chrome OS devices is convoluted and complicated. If users own a Cloud Print-compatible printer, it's fairly straightforward. But that isn't always the case regardless.
This move places the process more on par with how printing works on other operating systems. In effect, Google's goal seems to be handing off printing for Chrome OS to IT department management and apps. That should mean the rapid implementation of changes that make native printing easier while the company steps away from its cloud solution.
Those who are using Cloud Print from their phones or from other devices aren't quite so lucky. For those users, an entirely new cloud printing solution may need to be found to replace Cloud Print once it's gone. But at least there's still another year before that happens and Google will most likely reveal more information as that end date approaches.