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Apple to sell software downloads?

Plan predates iTunes Music Store

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Apple's scheme to turn its operating system into a commercial opportunity appears at long last to be coming to fruition.

Mac OS X 10.3, aka Panther, has software purchasing options programmed into Software Update, Apple's patch provision system, Mac Rumours reports.

Within the program's code includes text to support an offer to allow Mac users to buy software using Apple's 1-Click e-commerce technology. Other text offers discounts on software purchases to subscribes of .Mac, Apple's once-free, now fee'd online service.

It's not clear whether Apple plans to sell third-party products this way, or even whether it intends to use the facility at all. However, every incarnation of Mac OS X from the Public Beta through to 10.2 has featured a variety of purchasing-oriented links built into the OS.

For example, the Apple menu originally had a 'Buy Mac OS X Software...' option, now simply 'Mac OS X Software...' Both connect to Apple's web site at the address http://www.apple.com/macsox/get which currently redirects to Apple's repository of downloadable Mac OS X software.

Previous incarnations of the Cocoa programming framework's Font panel had links marked 'Buy fonts...', though this too appears to have been deprecated in Panther.

However, iTunes still has its 'Shop for iTunes Products' File menu item. iPhoto and iMovie have similar menu entries.

Whether Apple reckons the time is right for such a move or not, it's a logical follow on the selling music downloads. Many users are happy downloading software updates that weigh in at tens or hundreds of megabytes - even those without broadband connections. Providing applications, games and utilities this way isn't much different and an obvious adjunct to the boxed product Apple already offers via its online store. ®

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