An Apple failing

*gasp* “Bill Wilson—that Apple fanboy—is going to write about an Apple failure!?!”

Not quite a failure, but a shortcoming.

When I was prepping the new 13″ MacBook Pro this week, I had to install a number of applications that I use regularly. OmniOutliner, Crashplan, and more. Anyone who has upgraded his or her computer knows that the application installation process means downloading the app or installing it from a CD/DVD, and using your existing serial number.

A good many of the apps I had to install on the new laptop came from Apple’s App Store. This made my life much easier since I could just click on the Purchased tab and install the apps I needed. No typing in serial numbers (after hunting for them), nothing difficult at all.

But there were a couple of problems with apps I use pretty regularly: Apple’s Numbers and Keynote apps. I bought these as part of the iWork ’09 suite (that also includes Pages). When I checked for them in the App Store, it thinks I haven’t purchased them and it wants to charge me $20 each for them. It’s not a huge amount of money, but hey, forty bucks is forty bucks. Okay, I’ll go to Plan B: download the trial apps via the Apple web site, which I’ve done before, and input my serial numbers.

Uh, think again. Apple’s web site links only to the App Store. No trial versions available. Well, phooey. Now I’m going to have to go home, dig for an install CD with serial numbers, and see if I can install the apps that way. If not, then I think I’m going to have to bite the bullet and spend the $40.

So, here’s what I see as Apple’s failing: Apple’s App Store should be able to tell if I have an Apple app installed, and make it available for installation rather than purchase on another Mac. I know this raises issues about Apple “snooping” on my computer to see what apps are installed. This could be avoided, though, because when I bought iWork ’09, I did it by using the trial apps and buying the apps online with my Apple ID (that I’ve had for a long, long time). Apple’s databases somewhere already know that my Apple ID has purchased Numbers and Keynote, but those databases are not linked to the App Store.

In the overall scheme of things, this is not a big deal. But when people ask me why I use a Mac, I tell them I use it because everything just works. Seamlessly. I can focus on getting work done and not on messing around with the operating system like in certain other OSes. (I think our tech support guy secretly hates me because my computer never needs his attention and he doesn’t get to charge us like he could if I had a Windows PC on my desk.) Apple has a knack for figuring out how to make things work well in its ecosphere. It’s rare to see them goof on something like this.

Again, this is not a big deal, but it would be nice if Apple could fix this little problem in the near future.

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