HP to charge for server firmware updates & service packs from 19 February

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HP server customers have until 19 February to download firmware patches and service packs to avoid getting hit with charges.

The IT giant will start asking for cash before it allows the software downloads.

The service packs and firmware updates are often needed to patch bugs and security holes as well as providing support for new features and installing the latest versions of operating systems.

The fee will apply to customers with HP equipment that is out of warranty and have not bought into the HP Care Pack Service or paid extended support agreements.

In a blog post, HP vice president for servers and support Mary McCoy said: "The decision reinforces our goal to provide access to to the latest HP firmware, which is valuable intellectual property, for our customers who have chosen to maximise and protect their IT investments."

The firmware updates will remain free for customers with warranty or service agreements.

McCoy said the move was "in no way trying to force customers into purchasing extended coverage. That is, and always will be, a customer's choice."

In an FAQ, HP stated that Proliant server customers that still need the updates would require an active warranty, an HP Care Pack or a support agreement to access the patches.

McCoy said the decision to charge customers to patch up defects in HP hardware "aligns with industry best practices and is the right decision for our customers and partners."

However, rival server company Dell allows unrestricted access to firmware updates across its entire line of servers, storage and networking products.

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.