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Win2K drivers: HP is ‘hurrying’

Let's hope they never get to run an ambulance service

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Following our story earlier this week (HP eventually wakes up to Win2K,) the Great Stan of printers has issued a measured response. It would seem that the HP party line is that no one ever uses a new operating system until the first service release. "It is certainly standard operating procedure to wait for the first service release before wide scale adoption of a new OS - especially for the IT community," says Rex Robertson of HP software support. "We would certainly want to know about any major problems with Win2K, and release after this is resolved, rather than before. Otherwise, our customers may need to reinstall our software. And HP is undoubtedly protecting users here: there's certainly no danger of having to reinstall software if it isn't available in the first place. But HP's claim that businesses traditionally wait before adopting a new operating system raises another question: following HP's logic, if businesses will wait, early adopters must logically be SOHO users. Why then are there beta Win2K drivers now available for the high-end multifunction products such as the OfficeJet 1150, OfficeJet 1170, OfficeJet R Series, PSC 500 and OfficeJet T Series, and none for the 500, 600 and 700 series most often found in home and small office use? Put simply, beta drivers are available for the corporate users which HP tells us don't need them yet, but not for the small folks who do. That's clever marketing. As we reported in our earlier story, there is a beta print only driver available for download. This does not give any control over the scanning, fax and housekeeping functionality available to Win9X and Win3.X users. Robertson claims that HP is listening to user feedback on the beta drivers before releasing them – what beta drivers? Is there some secret beta programme for which the vast majority of users are not deemed suitable? This isn't how the industry is supposed to work, guys. It's all terribly complicated "OfficeJets are complex devices that provide Print, Scan, Copy, and Faxing functions all working together under an operating system that now supports USB, whereas Windows NT 4.0 did not. Our G Series products now support USB, which was developed in concert with the new Win2K COM driver model. This has meant longer development times and greater R&D efforts to meet this requirement." We don't deny that OfficeJets are complex devices, we like them (and even use them). We don't deny that this leads to longer development times. Our original point was that HP simply didn't start development early enough. Robertson tells us that he personally reads every single response customers post to the HP Windows 2000 OfficeJet site, located here, "I know how urgent this is for our customers. It sounds like a company line, but it isn't - we are working at the fastest possible speed to release this software, but we will not release it until the OfficeJet software and Windows 2000 work well together. Microsoft itself is issuing many updates and hotfixes to the OS, and Service Packs are soon to follow. "In the meantime, we are working on the feedback our customers are providing on installation, functionality, and interoperability with Windows 2000 applications and OS-based applets, many of which are brand new. "Please thank your readers on behalf of HP for their patience. We're hurrying." As my dear old mum never tired of telling me: "You only have to hurry if you don't start on time." ®

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