Upgrading a recent Mac to support the draft version of the faster 802.11n wireless standard will cost £1.25 including VAT in the UK, Apple has confirmed.
The latest generation of Intel-drive Macs that offer 802.11b/g can be upgraded -- including MacBooks, MacBook Pros, Mac Pros, Mac minis and iMacs (except the entry 17-inch iMac with 1.83GHz Intel Core 2 Duo chip).
The update will be made available from the Apple Online Store.
802.11n offers a maximum data rate of 540Mbps -- 10 times that of the current 802.11g standard and almost 50 times that of the original 802.11b version. However, Apple's forthcoming 802.11n-based AirPort Extreme Base Station wireless router offers 2.5 times the speed of 802.11g -- or 135Mbps -- which it says is due to licensing restrictions. The router is due in February for £119 including VAT.
The final version of the standard is not expected until April 2008, though compatibility between currently available 'pre-N' hardware is expected.
Apple says that "the nominal distribution fee for the 802.11n software is required in order for Apple to comply with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles for revenue recognition, which generally require that we charge for significant feature enhancements, such as 802.11n, when added to previously purchased products."
The company also says that eventually the 802.11n software will be included with all new Macs that contain the appropriate hardware.