“Many Mac computers with an Intel Core 2 Duo and all Mac Pro computers with AirPort Extreme can be enabled to access 802.11n-based wireless networks,” a description of the USD$1.99 software update posted to its online store states. “If you purchased one of these Macs, you can use the AirPort Extreme 802.11n Enabler software to activate this advanced wireless capability.”
There are no details or reports yet on which third-party n-branded routers work with the Macs that have the enabler installed, but those reports are sure to come in the following weeks.
As noted on other sites, Apple was forced to charge the nominal fee as a result of a law called the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which supposedly prohibits Apple from giving away an unadvertised new feature of an already sold product without enduring some onerous accounting measures.
Early talk on Apple’s discussion boards suggest that the update also solves issues regarding connectivity and dropouts experienced by users of Core 2 Duo MacBooks.
The Enabler requires that you have the latest system software and Airport updates installed.
The enabler software is also included freely with the new 802.11n/a/g/b Airport Extreme ($179 Apple Store), which uses the same draft-n specification to deliver nearly 5 times the speed of wireless data transmission over the current b/g Airport Extreme. The new wireless router also includes new Airport configuration software, aimed at replacing the dated Airport Management Utility and Client Tools, and provides a new and easy to configure interface for personal and professional use, with the ability to monitor client connections.
The latest Airport Extreme wireless router also improves on it’s predecessor by including support for USB hard-drives as well as printers, but contains only one USB 2.0 port, requiring the addition of a powered USB hub to take advantage of multiple devices.