TV-PGSeptember 28, 2001: The free Mac OS X 10.1 update kits will be available at participating Apple resellers tomorrow-- probably. Meanwhile, abusing market research initiatives can be fun and profitable, and the new judge in "Redmond Justice" orders some pretty serious settlement talks before she pulls the trigger...
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Maybe The $20 Is Worth It (9/28/01)
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So here we are, enjoying 10.1 Eve. Or 10.1 Eve Day. Whatever. Call it what you will; even if you refer to it as "International Puma Anticipation Day" or even "Friday" (you weirdo), the fact remains that for those of us who weren't blessed with Seybold passes, tomorrow marks the first day we can legally get our hands on Mac OS X 10.1. People who haven't yet upgraded from Mac OS 9 can saunter down to their local Apple dealers and shell out $129 for the full version, but while they'll be pleasantly impressed with everything Apple's new operating system has to offer, it's the so-called "early adopters" that are really looking forward to tomorrow-- because only someone who has limped along with 10.0 through 10.0.4 will truly appreciate the improvements that 10.1 has to offer. In particular, we're looking forward to launching a web browser in less than an hour and a half.

However, the early adopters are also drooling for another reason: while Apple originally stated that the update would be "free" (translation: $19.95 for shipping and handling), the company has since announced that it's also going to be available for free (translation: not a dime out of pocket, and you don't even have to listen to a sales pitch for time-share vacation housing in Florida). The deal, you may recall, is that starting tomorrow, you can walk into a "participating retail outlet" and walk out clutching a 10.1 upgrade CD, a Mac OS 9.2.1 update CD, and a Mac OS X manual just for the asking. (One catch: only those who upgrade by mail will get the new Developer Tools CD, but hey, that's the trade-off for saving a couple of sawbucks.)

There's just one little snag: confusion reigns supreme when it comes to determining just what constitutes a "participating retail outlet." It's a safe bet that Apple's own stores will be nicely stocked with upgrade kits, but we've witnessed a lot of consternation and uproar from customers and resellers alike concerning who else is going to have how many kits and when. Smaller resellers complain that getting Apple to commit to shipping them any kits is roughly similar in experience to extracting one's own teeth with a pair of lard-covered vise grips; the phrase "limited supply" occurred frequently in these missives. Meanwhile, customers calling larger stores like CompUSA to ask about whether or not the kits will be available are unable to get a straight answer. Indeed, faithful viewer mIkE was not only told that CompUSA knows nothing about any upgrade, but also found out that Mac OS X 10.1 costs $699. News to us.

The Register has a nice summary of the roiling confusion, and sagely advises customers looking to snag a free kit to show up as early as possible, because supplies are limited and demand is raging. Personally, we recommend that you call your local reseller before you make the trek, because at least some dealers are complaining that their kits won't be arriving until Monday at the earliest, if at all. If your local dealer has any, get there early to avoid the heartbreak of being told "you just missed 'em." Hey, no one ever said upgrading would be free and easy-- hence the existence of opportunistic capitalists hawking free 10.1 upgrades on eBay with a "Buy It Now!" price of $50. You have to love the free market...


 
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We LOVE Market Research (9/28/01)
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A free upgrade to Mac OS X 10.1 is one thing, but there are even better deals out there for crafty people "in the know." Well, today on AtAT we bring you a very special treat: we're going to reveal the secret of how to score a free PowerBook G4 instead. Yes, kiddies, revealed for the first time anywhere is a foolproof method to walk into an Apple retail store and saunter out with a fabulous titanium PowerBook, at no cost to you and without all that tedious cutting of security cables and running like hell when the alarms go off. So listen up.

See, the key is to take advantage of Apple's store satisfaction surveys. Everyone knows that the company is blowing a ton of cash on this whole retail initiative, and more than a few analysts think that the whole thing is a terrible idea, especially in this economic climate. Apple, however, is committed to proving those naysayers wrong, and part of that entails soliciting feedback from customers on the whole shopping experience and how to improve it. To that end, faithful viewer King Wilson reports that he was accosted by a woman as he left the Woodfield boutique a couple of nights ago. After about five minutes spent answering standard questions about his visit to the store ("What was your overall impression of the store's layout," "Was the staff courteous and knowledgeable," "How come at first Dino was a talking dinosaur, but after that he just yapped like a terrier on speed and knocked Fred down a lot," etc.), the woman then handed him twenty bucks.

So, without further ado, we present the AtAT Path To A Free PowerBook:

  • Visit the nearest Apple retail store.

  • Exit looking receptive, thoughtful, and leisurely to attract the survey people.

  • Answer all questions as quickly as possible and collect your payment.

  • Once out of sight, disguise your appearance, perhaps with a monocle or a fake scar and moustache.

  • Return to the store in your new guise.

  • Repeat 110 to 150 times (depending on specific PowerBook desired). Don't forget to figure in the sales tax.

  • Return to the store one last time to purchase a PowerBook with rolls of twenties.

Don't thank us; it's the least we can do for our faithful viewers. Enjoy your foray into titanium bliss-- and if the cops call, we're denying everything.


 
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Corrective Action Report (9/28/01)
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On the "Redmond Justice" front, there's no doubt about it: in addition to finding her name wonderfully fun to pronounce (say it soft and it's almost like praying), we really like the cut of Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly's jib. We had a feeling she'd be a terrific replacement for the disgraced Judge Jackson, if for no reason other than the fact that she'd bring a woman's perspective to this whole sad affair-- a perspective that had been sadly lacking. But even more importantly than that, the woman's a pistol.

See, as faithful viewer chollyhead points out, the new judge is sort of taking the "stern mom" approach; according to a Reuters article, Judge Kollar-Kotelly today "ordered intensive settlement talks" between Microsoft and the government. How intensive? Try "24 hours a day, seven days a week" from now until November 2nd. Despite the fact that settlement talks between the two sides have never brought forth an ounce of compromise, the Judge's message is basically this-- "for crying out loud, grow up and work it out already, or I'll work it out for you." If no progress has been made by October 12th, the judge will send in a mediator; if even that doesn't work (and it's already failed in the past), then hearings to determine Microsoft's punishment will commence in March.

If Microsoft's counting on getting its traditional slap on the wrist (like that joke of a consent decree that resulted from its last tussle with the feds on antitrust charges), the company might be in for a shock. Judge Kollar-Kotelly has already smacked down Microsoft's requests that there be limits placed on the range of possible remedies (that's right, breakup fans-- you've still got a chance!) and that said remedies be "limited to only those specific acts that have been deemed illegal." Simply put, the judge ain't havin' it; if no settlement is reached, she'll weigh the evidence and find a fair but effective remedy that will fix Microsoft's wagon, and fix it good. Say, are there Judge Colleen t-shirts available yet? 'Cause we've got a new write-in candidate for the next presidential election.


 
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