What I learned today....
Back when there were only two types of printers, parallel and serial, it was a lot easier. But even then, there was this annoying issue of incompatible interfaces. Today, the three dominant interfaces are ethernet, wifi, and usb, which takes over the role played by parallel cord interfaces.
There are multiple network protocols, most of them now gone, leaving TCP/IP. But there are still a proliferation of competing protocols pushed by different vendors. There's old LPD, newer IPP, and two proprietary ones: Windows Web Services, and AirPrint. What a pain in the ass. These last two standards (which aren't standard) include important discovery features, so you can find your printer on the network. WS uses WS-Discovery, and AirPrint uses Bonjour.
The discovery part seems to be where the competition is. In the traditional LANs systems, you'd get lists of shared printers from a Windows/CIFS server or some other print server. The server was also a place to get drivers, and spool jobs. The new style is going to be decentralized, with discovery only returning a network address - the device then reports back it's make and model, and Windows Update or some other network-based software installation service is used to install the printer drivers.
Windows seems to be making WS printing complex, so it'll be protected by the cost of implementation. Apple's protectionist move was to take over the Unix CUPS project, an open source print server/image processor. CUPS doesn't seem to support WS-Discovery.