HP has started sending letters out to its support customers running HP 3000s to ask who wants to apply for a copy of the new PowerPatch 3 for MPE/iX 7.5. This version of the OS first made its debut in 2002, so three PowerPatches in four years' time is a sign that HP's updating this MPE/iX more often than older releases.
While that's often been true in the past at HP, traditional HP corporate behavior regarding the 3000 needs to checked regularly during the Transition Era. For example, HP Professional Certification holders of MPE/iX documents found themselves deactivated last year, a misstep that HP is just now getting around to correcting.
But it has been more than two years since 7.5 got its last PowerPatch, HP's collection of patches to add enhancements and fix bugs, available only to HP support customers. Some 3000 sites wait until a patch rolls onto a PowerPatch release before testing and installing it; the lag between approving a patch for general release and PowerPatching it can be many months, all of which provide extensive testing — on other customers' systems.
HP's rolling out one feature for certain in the new PowerPatch. PowerPatch 3 will be the first 7.5 PowerPatch whose Communicator will contain an HP end of support notice bearing a post-2006 date. We'd also expect that PowerPatch 3 enhancements would be a subject of a few slides at next month's e3000 update at the HP Tech Forum.
Matching up your current set of patches against HP's latest is easier with a free analysis script from Beechglen Development. Beechglen's CTO Mike Hornsby took note of the full list of 7.5 patches, dated from newest to oldest, in a posting to the 3000 newsgroup.
To cull the 2004 and later patches off Hornsby's comprehensive list, we offer this subset in a PDF file:
HP was hunting for beta testers for many of the 3000 patches released in 2005, all through last year and into this one, too. It appears that HP's old rules for taking a 3000 patch out of beta, into general release and then onto a PowerPatch still are in force. More than one site must test a patch. Customers who are freezing their 3000 configurations have been slow to do such tests.
Whether you'll need to patch your 3000 at all depends on what you want: enhancements, or repair. Hornsby noted in our Q&A interview with him in the year just after HP's 3000 discontinuation announcement:
Let me say that I have always been skeptical about patches. To paraphrase a famous coach, “three things can happen when you patch, and two of them are bad.” Our approach has always been to be more consultative and look at the problem from a programming prospective.