HP has admitted that staff at call centres told customers they were bound by the company's own warranty and guarantee policy rather than broader consumer law guarantees.
The policy change was announced Friday by HP Vice President Mary McCoy who is responsible for managing HP's services business.
Ms. McCoy published a blog post titled, "Customers for Life" saying that effective Feb. 19 the company will provide firmware updates "only to customers with a valid warranty, Care Pack Service or support agreement."
The Wall Street Journal reported that some Hewlett-Packard customers weren't happy with the company's recent decision to stop providing firmware updates, to users of its computer servers who are no longer on warranty or do not have a support agreement.
The change set off criticism on some social media websites such as Reddit, where dozens of people said it jeopardized security and was unfair for H-P to charge to ensure the core functionality of their machines.
Tom Crinson, a senior software developer at Eagle Genomics criticized the change on Twitter and said in a separate message that he "was disgusted at this new rather extorting policy."
Bob Martens, the webmaster of H-P customer Martin Luther College said that the policy change could leave some H-P customers exposed to security vulnerabilities. "It would mean that any security issues with the server firmware has a much higher risk of going un-patched, especially if the server is purchased used from another vendor," he said.
Arch rival Dell said that they do not have such a policy. A Dell spokeswoman said, "firmware upgrades are freely available to anyone with a Dell system."