January 30, 2007 12:28 PM PST

Apple's 802.11n software now available

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Apple on Tuesday released the software needed to unlock the fast Wi-Fi chips inside almost every one of its new Macs.

At Macworld earlier this month, CEO Steve Jobs revealed that certain Macs were shipped with a fast 802.11n chip inside, but the chip was disabled until the standard was more complete. The company subsequently said it would charge $1.99 to unlock that capability, or Mac users could buy a new 802.11n Airport Extreme Base Station with the needed software.

Both products are now available, because the industry is more comfortable with the current draft of the standard, said David Moody, vice president of worldwide Mac product marketing. The software enabler can be purchased from the Apple Store, and the $179 base station is also available online. It should show up in Apple stores over the next few days, the company said.

Based on Apple's tests, the 802.11n standard should allow connection speeds five times faster than 802.11g networks with twice the range, said Jai Chulani, senior product manager at Apple. The company tested the performance of its notebooks connected to its Airport Extreme base station to come up with those numbers, so results may vary in mixed environments. But as long as you have 802.11n on both sides of the connection, any vendor's products will deliver better results than 802.11g networks because of the MIMO (multiple in, multiple out) antenna technology used by the standard.

Apple's 802.11n upgrade fee provoked a controversy after the company claimed it was required by accounting rules to charge users for the software enabler. Accounting experts later clarified that Apple was forced to surprise users with the charge because it booked all the revenue upfront from sales of the Macs with the 802.11n chips, and because it didn't tell users at the time of purchase that they would need to spend $1.99 to unlock that chip.

The company is getting the software out a little earlier than promised, however. Jobs said at Macworld that the software would ship in February. All Mac notebooks with Intel's Core 2 Duo chip have the 802.11n chip. Mac Pro desktops with the Airport Extreme option and all the iMac models--except for the entry-level iMac with a 1.83GHz Core 2 Duo chip--also come with the faster Wi-Fi chip. The enabling software can be used on more than one Mac inside a home network, Moody said.

Other companies have released notebooks with 802.11n chips, such as Lenovo, Dell and Gateway, but Apple has the technology inside all of its notebooks available now, a company representative said.

The Wi-Fi Alliance is expected to start certifying products based on the 802.11n draft standard relatively soon. A final version of the standard is expected to become available later this year, and current products will likely--but not definitely--only require a software update to comply with the final standard, Chulani said.

See more CNET content tagged:
IEEE 802.11n, standard, Apple Computer, Macworld, Intel Core 2 Duo

20 comments

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So, what else is new....
On the day that MSFT is introducing some (likely bug-ridden)
software product five years too late, Apple ups the ante again (not
to mention that snazzy new orange Shuffle that also came out
today!).

I am p-o'ed at the silly $1.99 charge, though.
Posted by kathakalimask (20 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I would think it is just because Apple is sick of all the lawsuits
Apple is the top dog again and everyone wants a piece of them.
They had to sell this software or it would allow certain unethical
people to sue because of some weird law. This is fact not
conjecture btw.
Posted by CentrOS (126 comments )
Link Flag
Ummm 802.11n
Isn't some sort of Apple development. In fact, its been available
from sevela soures for a while - which is why Apple had it built into
boxes its been spitting out for a couple months now.
Posted by rapier1 (2722 comments )
Link Flag
On the day Kathakalimask posted...
Trolling doesn't give the Macintosh supporters a good name. I would suggest that you refrain from making these postings which only serve to embarass Macintosh supporters. more by having you in their ranks.

I own two Macs currently. Kathakalimask does not speak for me.
Posted by Vegaman_Dan (6683 comments )
Link Flag
On the day Kathakalimask posted...
Trolling doesn't give the Macintosh supporters a good name. I would suggest that you refrain from making these postings which only serve to embarass Macintosh supporters. more by having you in their ranks.

I own two Macs currently. Kathakalimask does not speak for me.
Posted by Vegaman_Dan (6683 comments )
Link Flag
I should have posted this on the first article
but I thought that GAP states that once a product or service is sold that was it for collecting money? And I thought it states that in instances like this, where not all the delivered, the company is suppose to take the money up front, but not record the revenue until it is finalized? Really, it still sounds like Apple is trying to squeeze a few extra dollars out of their customers for something that they already bought.
Posted by aka_tripleB (2211 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Apple not squeezing anyone
The "n" feature was not complete and therefore could not be sold.

Have a nice day!
Posted by lesfilip (496 comments )
Link Flag
Take that, fanboys!
So...they couldn't just sneak in the 2 buck charge in up front and then say, "Hey, guys! Download this update and your 802.11g card automagically becomes an 802.11[b]n[/b] card!!!" and reap amazing amounts of good will, yet preserve whatever profits/accounting standards/bull$#!+ that they're now talking up to justify this piddly little in-your-face charge? Apparently, "the rest of us" in that "A computer for the rest of us" line are sheep, and Jobs is the randy shepherd. Step right up, fanboys, and just say "baaaa" if it hurts! ;)
Posted by DarkHawke (999 comments )
Reply Link Flag
apple fanboy here
So, I like apple, even have the sticker on my bumper. Do I think it's ok to charge $2.00 for a software update ?

Hell no!!!

But then again, nothing is perfect in this world, people are greedy and so are companies.
Posted by RompStar_420 (772 comments )
Link Flag
apple fanboy here
So, I like apple, even have the sticker on my bumper. Do I think it's ok to charge $2.00 for a software update ?

Hell no!!!

But then again, nothing is perfect in this world, people are greedy and so are companies.
Posted by RompStar_420 (772 comments )
Link Flag
Hmmm. 802.11n is not even a standard.
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IEEE_802.11#802.11n" target="_newWindow">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IEEE_802.11#802.11n</a>

Release date of the standard: October 2008 (Predicted)

Apple is charging $1.99 for a piece of software that is not even standard. I'll bet that by October 2008, it will at least another $2.00 to get the standard one. Darn M$. Oh wait...
Posted by thetruth1960 (18 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Man are you guys slow?
802.11n has been stuck in "review" for quite some time. Several networking companies have been offering 11n products with the promise that their firmware is upgradable if the standard changes from spec.

In walks apple doing the same thing.

Only difference is how Apple wants to handle the accounting. Under SOX they either hold back money for the value of the "upgrade" or they have to charge for it.

With the SEC already investigating Apple, do you think that they are going to stray?

And those that have apples and want to go from .g to .n for less than 2 bucks are going to cry?

Not a major deal.
Posted by dargon19888 (412 comments )
Link Flag
Does not work with Core Duo
The AirPort Extreme 802.11n Enabler does not work with machines
using Intel Core Duo processors. It only works with Core 2 Duo
processors as I found out after purchasing and downloading the
software enabler for my MacBook Pro.
Posted by BKuch (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Read first
It's your own fault. Apple clearly states that it only works for Core 2 Duo machines. :P
Posted by OscarWeb (76 comments )
Link Flag
Do Macs sold after today have 802.11n enabled free?
So now that Apple has announced 802.11n compatibility in most of
its Macs, if I buy a new Mac tomorrow will it come with the 802.11n
software enabled? By their logic, it should, right? They have to
charge for previously purchased 802.11n machines because it
wasn't announced that the chip was there and future-compatible
when they were sold in the first place, so now that it's announced
and compatible it should be included on new Macs. Anybody know?
Posted by Lucky Lou (88 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Apparently so for some of them.
From the Apple web site:

"Do you need the AirPort Extreme 802.11n Enabler?
Before purchasing the 802.11n Enabler software, please check to
make sure that your Mac does not already have the 802.11n
enabler already installed."

It would indeed appear that some Macs come with the feature
enabled.
Posted by lesfilip (496 comments )
Link Flag
 

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