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Get better networked in beta

HP has taken the wraps off of its networked printing enhancement for the HP 3000 this week. A patch that extends the scope of printers available to HP3000 networks is out on the HP IT Response Center Web site, according to HP vCSY engineer Jeff Vance. He also noted that the results of the recent HP patch survey showed most people using the 6.5 and 7.0 releases of MPE/iX are willing to apply a patch to their systems.

The SIB '04 Network Printing patch, MPEMXU1, is now available for beta testing (BT) on 6.5 and 7.0, in addition to our initial 7.5 version.

You need an HP Support handle to get the BT version of this patch.

75% of you on 6.5 and 67% of you on 7.0 who filled out the recent MPE patching survey indicated you would apply a SIB patch on your respective systems. I realize that you didn't say you would apply non-GR patches, but still, I am hoping many of you will participate in this beta test effort so we can get this patch to General Release soon!

Of course, customers saying they're willing to patch and actually applying the patch are two different levels of commitment. HP is likely to be watching what happens to this No. 1 enhancement request as it creeps into beta testing. The vendor might figure that if customers can't sign on to test their most popular patch, well, there might be little motivation to complete other patch projects.

Getting this patch out of beta and into release could open the door for other enhancement work inside HP — at least what's possible in the 17 months until HP shuts down its 3000 development. A newfound set of customers willing to patch could come from Series 9x7 server customers. But HP has to enable its 7.0 release for those customers, if they are to join the patch party HP is throwing over the next year-plus.

Both sides have something they can do to help. Customers need to patch, at least enough to get enhancements out of beta test. HP needs to extend its OS reach for 7.0. Life goes on for those who intend to use MPE/iX through the end of this decade.

But even the HP-supplied network print enhancement has its limitations. Our June Q&A subject Rich Corn, who's built up his RAC Consulting firm on a third-party printing solution, explained the benefits and shortfalls of the HP patch.

We asked Corn in the June article,

Where can the SIB request for non-HP networked printing, as stated, fall short?

Well, I think it will be helpful to users. But you have to understand what is being provided. HP is removing an impediment to using non-HP printers with MPE. It is not “supporting” non-HP printers. To the extent that the current use of PCL by the MPE spooler is your problem, this is a good thing. If you have other issues, then this will not help. This will not help with integration with print server/host systems that require LPD/LPR.

I am a bit concerned about the exact meaning of “no...handling of CCTL information would be done” in the statement of the SIB request and making the final form feed become the user’s responsibility. If this is what is delivered, then it may well require programming changes, which will prove problematic for many users. If nothing comes out but what’s in the data file, that isn’t going to be a good thing. 3000 people depend on the spooler to print files correctly. Some may still need a tool that handles non-HP printers transparently.

We'd love to hear from you in your comments about how this HP patch will meet your printing needs. If it falls short, Corn has a solution that will fill the bill more completely.