Apple gives break to multi-Mac homes

Have more than one Mac at home? Apple offers a licensing program for the newest version of OS X, also known as Jaguar.

Aiming to reward those households with more than one Mac, Apple Computer will introduce a family plan for licensing OS X.

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Mac OS X 10.2 (Jaguar)

Under the plan, which will coincide with next week's release of Mac OS X version 10.2 (also known as Jaguar), consumers can buy a $199 a copy of the operating system and install it on up to five Macs in a single household.

"We've been getting feedback over the last while that more and more families are adding second and third Macs," said Mac OS X marketing director Ken Bereskin.

Some Mac owners have been miffed by Apple's decision not to widely offer an inexpensive upgrade version of Jaguar to Mac OS X owners. Only customers who bought a Mac or Mac OS X since Jaguar (Mac OS X 10.2) was announced on July 17 are eligible for a free upgrade, as long as they pay $20 for shipping and handling. All other Mac OS X owners have to pay $129 to graduate to Jaguar. Mac OS X was released just 18 months earlier than its upgrade, and, according to some users, Jaguar is not a radical departure from the original operating system.

Bereskin said the family licensing program had been in the works for some time and was not the result of customer complaints. Apple already has volume pricing plans for businesses and schools, as well as a program that lets those customers buy a three-year subscription covering all new versions of the OS during that time.

The family license program, to some degree, depends on the honor system. Although legally Mac owners are required to purchase a copy of the operating system for each Mac they own, Apple, unlike Microsoft, does not put technical barriers in place to prevent people from installing software on more than one machine.

"Our software has never had draconian activation," said Bereskin. However, he said that many Mac owners want their installations to be legal, but they're not willing to pay full price for each copy of the operating system.

"This is a great way to allow honest people to remain honest," Bereskin said.