I bought an Epson 7600 early on, and while I was delighted with the output quality, the Mk/Pk swap was an obvious shortcoming. We are now...what, five years out? and Epson still isn't correcting this glaring issue that forces users to waste hundreds of dollars of ink? Even with the second generation successor?
The mechanics of the 7/9600 and 7/9800 are very similar. The head was doubled in swath size from 1/2 inch to 1 inch to double the effective speed of the printer. The ink formulation from the original UltraChrome ro K3 ink was pretty impressive as well. It required adding a channel to get to 8 nozzle channels-which for several engineering reasons was the max the head could handle. The Chassis was also limited to 4 ink cart receptacles on each side.
So, what you have had Epson do? Stick another cart on the side?
Yes, the ink swap WAS a real pain with the 7/9600 series and made quicker and with less ink waste on the 7/9800, but the basic overall design of those printers were stuck at 8 inks at once. The 4000 was a nice improvement in that you could load all 8 of the original UltraChrome inks in at once. Then along comes K3 with 9 inks and the 4800 had to do swaps. Some people chose the Phatt Black solution which was sub-optimal in that it dropped out the 3rd K. Epson didn't add the 3rd K out of meanness-they honestly thought it was needed–and K3 output is better than the original UC output.
The 3800 was designed from the ground up to add the 9th line to an 8 channel head...an innovative solution to the swap problem but one that could not be put into an updated 7/9880 because there's not room. That will have to wait until the next full version rev of the printers...
Again the time scale and the amount of work required for these changes are substantial. Epson can only do what they can do. So, yes, the ink swap on the 7/9880 wasn't touched this time around. And if you think it's some evil conspiracy, you are wrong.
Personally, I'm looking forward to a time when Epson CAN pack a 12 ink system in the chassis and add more colors and expand the inks to incorporate potentially even more K inks. There's a fundamental problem adding blue, green and red ink–which HP and Canon have found out, just adding these additive primaries in an ink ain't gonna magically and radically expand the color gamut. Really, really good magenta, yellow and cyan inks can.
Then there's the issue of D-Max and gloss differential. Both of which Epson has done a really good job with-without having to go to the extra inks that Canon and HP have had to do.
And yes. . .these printers are indeed designed for professional printing. For a pro, the ink swap has to be factored in as a cost of doing biz...do you bite the bullet and but another printer? Sure, if your volume is high enough on different media.
Any way you look it it, it's a lot more complicated than Epson just wanting to force people to waste ink. . .