A report claims Apple may have crippled AirPrint before it began, abandoning support for printers shared via a network-connected PC or Mac.

On launch, Apple promised: “AirPrint is Apple’s powerful new printing architecture that matches the simplicity of iOS—no set up, no configuration, no printer drivers and no software to download,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. “iPad, iPhone and iPod touch users can simply tap to print their documents or photos wirelessly to an HP ePrint printer or to a printer shared on a Mac or PC.”

A report on MacStories informs us: “We have been told from a few Mac developers that a few days ago Apple removed all the references to printing via OS X 10.6.5 and PCs both from Readme files and other online documentation posted in the iOS developer center. It seems like all that’s now mentioned in the release notes are the aforementioned HP networked printers, as if the shared printing option never existed.”

One developer contacted Apple’s Tech Support, who are alleged to have confirmed that the feature has been “cancelled”:

“Support for AirPrint on Windows and Mac has been cancelled. We will be in contact with you if another opportunity arises in the future.”

If this report proves to be true, we can only imagine Apple has experienced problems with the feature in the GM beta. However, lack of such support is likely to impact some potential users in their perception of just how useful the iPad is.

Meanwhile, we’re anticipating the release of Mac OS X 10.6.5 and iTunes 10.1 (today/tomorrow), pending introduction of iOS 4.2 tomorrow.