Apple has begun accepting orders for its crossgrade program in the US, which will update customers of its pro applications Aperture, Final Cut Studio, Logic Pro, and Logic Express to Intel-native versions. The company is expected to follow suit in the UK soon. Apple also explained its decision to only sell Final Cut Studio as a bundle, doing away with standalone sales of the individual applications.

Universal versions of Logic Express (US$29 upgrade) and Logic Pro ($49 upgrade) will be available in February, one month ahead of the schedule outlined by CEO Steve Jobs during his Macworld keynote in January. Apple representatives told Macworld that Logic is shipping this week and should start reaching customers sometime next week.

Aperture Universal Binary will be free

There was good news for customers of Apple's photography workflow application, Aperture. Originally slated as a purchased upgrade, the company will deliver the Universal Binary of Aperture at no cost to customers.

"We were actually able to redefine our crossgrade program for the Aperture customers," Kirk Paulsen, Apple senior director, market development professional applications, told Macworld. "Even though during Macworld we suggested they would have to pay the $49, in the end we have some good news for those customers. Existing Aperture customers will be able to receive the Universal version of Aperture through the standard Software Update download mechanism."

Final Cut Studio ($49 upgrade) is still scheduled for release in March, according to the company. The Studio includes Final Cut Pro 5, Motion 2, Soundtrack Pro, and DVD Studio Pro 4.

While Apple will deliver Universal Binaries of Aperture to its customers as a download, Paulsen said they would not attempt the same deliver options for Final Cut Pro Studio because, "a download for the Studio would be substantial given the number of applications."

To upgrade your pro applications to Universal Binaries, you need to download and fill out a PDF form, including your payment information. You then send this to Apple with your original disks -- Paulsen said the company would verify the disks are yours and then they will send you out new Universal Binary disks.

Apple said that Shake and Final Cut Express are not currently eligible for this crossgrade program. Universal versions of these applications will be announced at a later date.

Final Cut Pro only available in Studio

In addition to starting its Universal Binary upgrade program, Apple also explained its decision to stop selling the applications in Final Cut Pro Studio individually. Until this year you could purchase Final Cut Pro, Motion, Soundtrack Pro or DVD Studio Pro individually, but now you must buy the full Studio.

Apple said the decision to only offer the applications as part of a suite was based on years of research on what their customers were doing with the applications. Professionals and independents, according to Apple's surveys, are wearing multiple hats in their jobs.

"It was a very interesting process to evaluate our entire product lineup on the Final Cut side," said Paulsen. "In looking at the purchase trends of our customers, it became very apparent that the customers were purchasing the Studio instead of standalone applications."

Apple said they are offering customers aggressive pricing to upgrade from individual applications to the full Studio. For instance, Paulsen said that if you own Final Cut Pro 5 you can upgrade to the full studio for $99 -- if you own any of the other recent version of the applications, it will cost $199 to upgrade.

The upgrade program will run through December 31, 2006.