HP recently announced that they are no longer offering free firmware updates for their ProLiant line of servers.
I have a HP ProLiant G7 N36L MicroServer at home (running Debian stable, naturally) which I got back in early 2011. While it has, and continues, to serve me well, I’ll have to reconsider my options when I go looking for a replacement. This is a pity because I really like the MicroServer form factor.
As recently as November 2013, HP released a BIOS update to fix random lockups when installing Windows 8.1⁄2012 R2 on a MicroServer (I’d never ever be running these operating systems, but the point still stands). I’d be worried if I couldn’t upgrade my system for fear of uncovering a bug in firmware that I couldn’t get an update for.
Non-free firmware is bad, but in certain circumstances, it can be tolerated. Non-free firmware behind a paywall is worse, and can never be tolerated.