Last week we pointed out that the networked printing enhancement for the 3000 has gone to beta-test, a process that 9x7 owners would like to participate in. The patches HP released for beta last week let the 9x7 users help in the testing, unlike other HP patches that are being designed and tested only for MPE/iX 7.5 and 7.0 releases.
I might not have been clear enough in last week's item about the relationship between the networked printing patches and the 9x7 owner's dilemma: They can't boot their systems with anything newer than the 6.5 release, thanks to some HP engineering that keeps 7.0 and later from bootstrapping their systems. HP has lifted 9x7 owner's lockout for networked printing, but it ought to be eliminated altogether. HP is watching to see how many 9x7 server sites end up using networked printing, although it might be hard for HP to tell without some reports from the customers.
HP's Jeff Vance shared his thoughts about this with us after we posted the blog item:
The NW printing patch should work fine on all 9x7s running 6.5. It seems (to me) to be a much lower risk for the customer to install a relatively small patch on 6.5 vs. installing a new version of the OS (like 7.0 or 7.5).
My impression is that customers asking for 9x7 to boot MPE 7.x want this as a form of insurance. They more than likely won’t install 7.5 on their 9x7 any time soon, but they want to be able to do this later on should the need arise. There is a pretty strong “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” mentality in our homesteading customer base, combined with their traditional risk aversion. It will be interesting to see how many 9x7 customers install the NW printing SIB item after it GRs.
Vance is right. 9x7 owners tell us that all they want from HP is the ability to fix things when they break in the future. Going to a new release to fix something so falls in the category of "last resort" for most of the 3000 sites we interview.
Engineers at HP like Vance and his vCSY cohorts appear to be listening for customer input on how much patch back-porting they should be doing for HP 3000 patches. Enabling the 9x7s to boot 7.0 could eliminate a lot of that back-porting for HP.
Yes, there are technical limitations to using the 7.0 release on Series 9x7 systems. The release assumes you won't be sending anything to an HP-IB peripheral, or unexpected results will occur. HP doesn't have to resolve those technical limitations. 3000 customers are capable of keeping HP-IB out of their 9x7 environments. This kind of separation is commonplace in the world of Windows and other desktops. It's kind of like the old vaudeville joke:
"Doctor, my arm hurts when I move it like this."
"Then don't move it like that. That'll be ten dollars."
3000 sites can eliminate HP-IB easier than they can patch the operating system. This is an example of post-2006 thinking. It runs counter to the engineering credo of the 3000 — if it runs now, it should run forever. But the homesteading customer will be running under a new set of beliefs.