EVIDENCE IS growing that printer maker HP put a 'self-destruct' protocol into a firmware update that would kill off printers using hooky cartridges.
The news follows the revelation that thousands of people started getting the same error message about their cartridge on the same day, 13 September. Not a Friday.
One third-party ink supplier carried out an investigation and it was discovered that the end-of-life date was programmed into a firmware update in March 2016.
A statement to Dutch media explained that HP does indeed take steps to block cartridges "to protect innovation and intellectual property".
However, this could have been handled better. HP could have, you know, told people and that.
HP, one of the companies that has been forced to raise prices post-Brexit, has never made any secret of how it doesn't like third-party cartridges, but it really should have been explicit if it was going to do this.
The company said in a statement to the INQUIRER: "HP is constantly improving security for its products and customers. Beginning in late 2015, HP implemented updates to the firmware related to the security chip in HP OfficeJet, OfficeJet Pro and OfficeJet Pro X printers that maintains secure communications between the cartridge and the printer.
"The purpose of this update is to protect HP’s innovations and intellectual property. These printers will continue to work with refilled or remanufactured cartridges with an Original HP security chip.
"Other cartridges may not function. In many cases this functionality was installed in the HP printer and in some cases it has been implemented as part of an update to the printer’s firmware."
So that confirms that the firmware exists and has been in place for a while, but it's not clear why everything went tits-up when it did.
Printer ink cartridges are something of a bugbear round these parts as, despite their high price, they rarely contain more than a few millilitres of ink.
Third-party manufactured cartridges have been found to have anything up to 10 times as much for significantly less money, so the decision to block them always sits badly with us. HP has even taken re-manufacturers to court before now.
HP isn't alone in doing this, however. Not by a long shot. µ
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