Printer support for Apple's new Rendezvous home networking technology will be available from spring next year, Macworld UK has learned.

During yesterday's Macworld Expo keynote Apple CEO Steve Jobs revealed that Hewlett-Packard, Epson and Lexmark are all working to integrate Rendezvous into their network printers. A Rendezvous-enabled printer allows networked Macs to "automatically discover" it using zero IP configuration.

Rendezvous is Apple's name for its implementation of an open networking standard pioneered by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). The IETF is an open international community of network designers, operators, vendors, and researchers concerned with the evolution of Internet architecture.

Lexmark worldwide account executive William McKinney yesterday told Macworld that a number of Rendezvous-enabled printers would be available "from spring 2003". Lexmark is currently demonstrating the solution on its Expo stand using a Lexmark E322 network laser printer.

"It's a question of updating the firmware," McKinney added. "It is something that will add value to our machines. Take this capability into a schools, for example, and it will enable students and teachers to automatically print from any Airport-networked printer in any classroom in the building."

Asked why Steve Jobs chose to demonstrate the solution on stage using an HP network laser McKinney said: "We were asking the same question."

HP also revealed that it is looking to build Rendezvous into its Jet Direct models "as soon as possible". "We'll be in internal discussions from next week to work out a timeframe on this issue," revealed Mac-connect future products manager Rick Spillers. "This is something we want to release sooner rather than later."

Epson were unavailable for comment at the time of writing.