OK guys - some more information posted officially.
Go to http://tech.epson.com.au/downloads/
Then choose Large Format Printers from the drop down list, then choose 7900 or 9900 from the next drop down. Click Continue, then click Search (without changing any options), then click Continue.
The document is called Firmware_1699_Pro7900_9900_Release_Notes.pdf
Interesting ... pretty much like you described it. Improved AID functionality, new menu allows control of the process.
Couple of things of interest ...
"If you choose to switch the AID mode off, it will only operate after initial ink
installation and after a black ink change. At all other times, the system will be entirely
manual and reliant upon the user checking the nozzle check pattern and performing
cleaning if desired."
I'm not sure this is obvious from the menu which I believe is still worded the same, but actually supplies the functionality that most users assume when they select the option to disable ANC. Previously this only turned off ANC before printing a print, now it basically turns it off completely. I assume if you select this option, the new menu options are irrelevant, since no ANC will be performed. As far as black ink swaps, you can still do this through service mode to avoid an auto cleaning, then normally a CL1 is all that is necessary if there happens to be a clog.
Note the new default setting of 1 will also not ever trigger a clean from an auto nozzle check before printing a print, it will just warn you if it detects a clog then continue to print. To me it sounds like completely disabling ANC is not the best option any more, better to use this set to 1 and if the ANC reports a clog, you could abort the printing process. You actually have to select option 3 to return the printer to its previous functionality ... of course if the AID is improved even that might be a good option now.
Overall sounds like some nice changes. I wish they would find some way to address how often the printer is clogging (my Cyan channel has been 100% "clogged" every time I start the printer up the last 4 times, with no other clogs ...just doesn't make sense). All the attention to auto nozzle checking and too many cleanings, if the printer clogged as little as my 3800 or my 11880 it really wouldn't matter. But at least it has become manageable and these changes gives the user a lot more control.