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Mac users outraged at iTools, upgrade taxes

Read my lips: pony up

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$100 per year is too much for many Mac users to hold on to their mac.com email addresses, and Apple sysadmins have been furiously busy deleting the complaints that flooded Apple's own technical forums. Users are also unhappy that the upgrade to 10.2 costs a full $129, with no discount for existing Mac OS X users.

Yesterday Apple renamed its file storage (iDisk) and free email (mac.com) bundle, adding in backup and virus software. The introductory price is $49.95. After that, it's a $100 per year.

Writes one user: " i have never been angrier or more upset with one of apple's bonehead moves than this one. as i said at the top, the price of true love has gone over the hill for me, and as of now 'I'M OUTTA HERE'! maybe by the weekend i will overcome my current urge to rush out and buy a sony vaio desktop and kiss mac goodbye forever."

"This kind of seems like Apple taking advantage of our unconditional love," writes another.

We've had precisely one email of support praising the move.

Other users point out that in three days the TCO for a Macintosh has risen dramatically - Quick Time Pro 6.0 is $29 into the bargain. Of course you don't need .Mac services, or Quick Time Pro to enjoy a Mac, but as Jobs said, the free lunch is over.

The long-awaited Jagwyre release of 10.2 - available for pre-order now - has been soured by Apple's decision to charge full price for the upgrade. This rewards users who've shied away from the migration and stayed with OS 9 or earlier versions, and it penalizes users who adopted the OS early and helped fix bugs and build momentum for X. And it's hardly an incentive for PC users who are sick of the annual Windows upgrade tax to switch.

The kudos Apple won by introducing a generous all-you-can-eat pricing for its server offerings has been lost by gouging its most loyal consumers. If you've been working with OS X since the public beta, your bill for the OS alone will have topped $400 by now. In the same period Microsoft has introduced one upgrade costing consumers $99 or $199 for the "professional" SMP-enabled XP. Steve Jobs really was risking hubris with so many barbs directed at The Beast at yesterday's keynote.

And Apple's insistence on calling it a point upgrade doesn't help. It is a significant upgrade - and arguably merits being called 11.0. But the trouble is, in a year's time we'll all be here again, when the real 11.0 is shipped.

Jaguar moves OS X from its ancient BSD 4.2 undercarriage to a slightly-less-ancient 4.4, but next year sees the platform move to the state-of-the-art BSD 5.0, which is currently in beta.

This is a milestone release, as it will fix a lot of the problems from which even Jagwyre suffers: such as process synchronization between the BSD layer (which finally gets threads) and device enumeration, and these improvements will be welcomed by developers and users alike. However the BSD 5.0-based X requires much additional work at Apple - with many of the current hacks to recognize new devices, for example, being discarded - and Apple will surely look to milk its users once again. But that depends on how many users want to empty their wallets now. Widespread sharing of Jaguar CDs this Fall will surely encourage Apple to introduce stepped upgrade pricing when 11.0 is ready next year. ®

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