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HP's Instant Ink service to require payment to work

(Image credit: Image source: Ken Wolter / Shutterstock)

HP has changed the way its Instant Ink service works, provoking a backlash from some customers and pundits.

Instant Ink was a subscription service that prevented customers from running out of ink. Those that signed up were asked to anticipate how many pages they would print in a month and then pay a commensurate subscription fee.

The printer itself would relay the exact number of prints to HP, which could then either charge for the extra pages, or roll the surplus over to the next month.

Now, the relevant printers will not print unless a subscription is active. In other words, if you don’t pay the subscription, you can’t print your pages - no matter whether the printer was purchased outright or ink remains in the cartridge.

Reporting on the announcement, Slashgear described the change as “both alien and unsettling”, and noted that HP will likely argue it is within its rights to change the terms of the arrangement.

Author and electronics rights advocate Cory Doctorow, meanwhile, claims the change is “a sad turn indeed, and the only thing worse than HP’s decline is the many imitators it has inspired.”