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...