Hewlett Packard is one of the largest and best known maker of printers in the world today. HP makes both residential and business printers in many different sizes and configurations. Generally, every printer has a dedicated printer driver – software that controls its functions and operations, and provides an interface between the printer and the computer user. However, Hewlett Packard also provides the HP Universal Printer Driver from their web site. The Universal Printer Driver is meant for office settings where there are multiple models of HP printers, or for the mobile laptop user whose computer must work with multiple HP printers.

The HP UPD replaces the multiple printer drivers needed to run several different HP models. This capability is a major boon to a mobile worker who carries a laptop from office to office, or between home and office. Instead of having to install five printer drivers for five different HP printers, the laptop user only needs to install a single driver which will automatically discover all networked and directly connected printers and all the user to select the one he wants to use from a drop-down list.

An enterprise using the HP universal printer driver can realize savings in many ways. The most obvious savings is in time. A network manager will only have to install one printer driver on the network or on each computer in the network rather than installing many different printer drivers. When printer drivers need to be upgraded, the network manager or IT department will only have one driver to update.

In addition, the HP universal printer driver includes a suite of printer management tools that allows the IT department to set and control printer access along a variety of parameters, including by department, by user group or by location. Managers can also decide who can use color printing and when, and set printer management policies to help companies meet economic and green printing goals.

The HP Universal Printer Driver is available for most Windows OS including XP, Vista and Windows 2000 and MS Windows Server 2000, 2003 and 2008. It comes in three flavors – PCL5, PCL6 and Postscript. It does have some drawbacks – there are many reports that the print stack is very slow when using the HP UPD, for instance. Overall, though, the reports from the field are positive enough that anyone running a network with multiple HP printers should seriously consider using the HP Printer.