If you own a Core 2 Duo-based Mac then chances are your computer already has an 802.11n wireless card built into the motherboard, but that card has been locked into working only in 802.11b/g mode. Apple has a patch that will unlock the 802.11n mode, but they’re not going to just give it to you:
Apple last week confirmed the move, saying Mac systems currently shipping with hidden 802.11n capabilities included the Core 2 Duo MacBook, Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro, Mac Pro with AirPort Extreme, and the Core 2 Duo iMac (with the exception of the 17-inch 1.83GHz model).
The company said that it plans to offer an “AirPort Extreme 802.11n Enabler 1.0” patch next month when it begins shipping its new AirPort Extreme Base Station, which will activate the technology.
“Most new Mac computers ship with built-in 802.11n wireless support that can be easily enabled with the installation of enabler software included with new AirPort Extreme wireless base station,” Apple wrote on its website.
So if you buy their brand spanking new AirPort Extreme for $179 they’ll be kind enough to give you a patch that will actually let your Mac’s internal wireless card—again which you’ve already technically paid for—operate in the mode it was originally designed to work in. But what if you don’t want their shiny new AirPort Extreme?
What the company did not say is that Core 2 Duo Mac owners who want to unlock 802.11n capabilities for use with third party wireless solutions will have to pay a small $4.99 fee before downloading the 802.11n enabler patch.
Reasons behind the move—and such a small obnoxious fee—are not necessarily clear at the moment. However, iLounge’s Jeremy Horwitz is offering an explanation from some Apple representatives present at last week’s Macworld Expo.
According to the editor, the fee stems from a law called the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which supposedly prohibits Apple from giving away an unadvertised new feature of an already sold product without enduring some onerous accounting measures.
“Because of the Act, the company believes that if it sells a product, then later adds a feature to that product, it can be held liable for improper accounting if it recognizes revenue from the product at the time of sale, given that it hasn’t finished delivering the product at that point,” he wrote.
Ta-da! It’s not our fault! It’s the
entertainment companies insisting on DRM Sarbanes-Oxley Act!
Granted $5.00 isn’t likely to bankrupt anyone, but it’s still somewhat galling having to pay extra money to make hardware you’ve already paid for perform at full functionality and blaming it on the Sarbanes-Oxley Act is pure bullshit.
Next up they plan to quietly introduce a new three button mouse, but you’ll have to wait several months after they introduce it and pay $5 before the third button will work unless you’re willing to pony up for their Mighty Mouse Extreme Mouse Pad for only $30!