HP moves BIOS upgrades behind warranty wall

February 10, 2014 // 10:36 a.m.

Tags: #bios #firmware #hewlett-packard #hp #mary-mccoy #warranty

HP has formalised its recent move to lock firmware upgrades to customers holding current warranties, confirming that the new rules will apply to all enterprise equipment from this day forward.

Customers of HP's server gear, in particular the best-selling HP ProLiant MicroServer family which has proven popular among home users as a more flexible alternative to a traditional network attached storage (NAS) box, have been complaining recently that HP is making it harder to grab BIOS and other firmware updates. Rather than simply browsing the support site and downloading the required files, owners of selected hardware have been asked to supply their serial numbers for a warranty check - with those systems found to be out of warranty being locked out from the download area.

While the initial shift happened silently, HP has now confirmed its plan in full. 'Effective February 19, 2014, we will provide firmware updates through the HP Support Center only to customers with a valid warranty, Care Pack Service or support agreement,' explained HP's vice president of server support Mary McCoy. 'This decision reinforces our goal to provide access to the latest HP firmware, which is valuable intellectual property, for our customers who have chosen to maximise and protect their IT investments. We know this is a change from how we’ve done business in the past; however, this aligns with industry best practices and is the right decision for our customers and partners.

'Our customers under warranty or support coverage will not need to pay for firmware access, and we are in no way trying to force customers into purchasing extended coverage. That is, and always will be, a customer’s choice. At the end of the day, we want you to know that you can continue to count on HP. And we will continue to provide an easily accessible way for our customers to download firmware updates. Our intention is to offer differentiated and long-term value in the products and services we provide,' concluded McCoy.

Although McCoy denies that the move is designed to boost the number of customers buying extended support contracts, it's hard to see it any other way: customers with machines suffering from known firmware issues but whose initial warranty has expired will be locked out from receiving a fix unless and until they purchase a valid warranty pack.

The shift will only cover HP's enterprise products at present, with the company having made no comment on whether its consumer range will follow suit.
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