HP employees are looking at an important deadline today. Friday is the day that HP long-timers need to tell HR if they plan to pursue the latest Enhanced Early Retirement program. HP's 3000 engineers and managers older than 50 qualify, not an unusual age range for people serving a computer that's already been around more than 30 years.
Our weekly podcast (MP3 file, 6MB) reports on the mood among the HP engineers and managers we saw during a week of interviews. My visit culminated with the all-day OpenMPE meeting at HP's campus in Cupertino yesterday.
At the meeting HP offered a good deal of encouragement for customers who want to believe the vendor will do the right thing for its longest-term business computer users. HP's Mike Paivinen proposed that the vendor will consider doing a Software Status Bulletin when it exits the 3000 market at the end of next year. This kind of document used to be issued monthly for 3000 support customers; it tracked the status of every reported bug about the system — the kind of information that could be invaluable for the third party support companies who are already stepping in to replace HP Support.
HP's also committed to hardening device drivers for the 3000, so non-certified tape devices can be attached to the system to expand the range of backup peripherals. HP now also has got a non-division, 3000-savvy engineer doing an internal review of its source code and MPE/iX version-building process — an important preliminary to a potential thumbs-up on releasing MPE/ix source.
The announcement of HP's decision to release source code to the community under some limited license is still months away, but not too many more.
Paivinen said HP does not want to wait until "the last day of the year, at 11:59:59, to make that announcement." But the vendor going to take the time the decision — with all of its details — deserves, according to business manager Dave Wilde. This year's calendar fourth quarter, as we reported last week, looks like the earliest the community can expect to hear about the decision on MPE/iX source release.
We'll have more details on the all-day meeting throughout next week. For now, take about five minutes to listen to our commentary on this important day in HP 3000 futures. The longer the 3000 friends can stay inside HP, the smoother that path to the future will feel.