HP has promised it will issue an update for its printers to let them work with third-party ink cartridges after coming under fire for issuing a prior software update that stopped them working.
The firm's chief operating officer Jon Flaxman said in a blog post that while there were legitimate reasons for the update the firm had not done a good job of explaining the reasons behind it.
"HP printers and original HP ink products deliver the best quality, security and reliability. When ink cartridges are cloned or counterfeited, the customer is exposed to quality and potential security risks, compromising the printing experience," he wrote.
"As is standard in the printing business, we have a process for authenticating supplies. The most recent firmware update included a dynamic security feature that prevented some untested third-party cartridges that use cloned security chips from working, even if they had previously functioned.
"We should have done a better job of communicating about the authentication procedure to customers, and we apologise."
Flaxman added that while third-party cartridges with original HP security chips will continue to work with HP printers, it will issue an update to solve the issue.
"As a remedy for the small number of affected customers, we will issue an optional firmware update that will remove the dynamic security feature. We expect the update to be ready within two weeks and will post additional information here as it becomes available."
The change of heart comes after the firm came under fire from customers and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) for recent changes to its printer software that stop customers using cartridges made by third parties.
The organisation set out its disapproval of this method in an open letter to Dion Weisler, president and CEO of HP Inc.
"You must be aware that this decision has shocked and angered your customers. Below, I have set out our concerns and the steps HP must take to begin to repair the damage it has done to its reputation and the public's trust."
The EFF argued four key points. First that removing support for third-party inks deprived customers of a "useful, legitimate feature", pointing out that the forced monopoly was making people choose HP ink out of necessity, not because it was the best.
It went on accuse HP of abusing the security update mechanism to "trick" customers and giving them reason to mistrust legitimate updates in the future.
HP was also accused of a "bait-and-switch" ruse by waiting six months between installation and implementation with no public announcement, during which time users may have upgraded to another "trusted" product under false pretences, recommended HP to friends, relations and colleagues and built up stockpiles of now useless third-party inks.
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