July 25, 2012

Apple's Mountain Lion Up-to-Date Program

This year I made the decision to buy a new laptop. My MacBook Core Duo just was struggling to keep up with all the programs that I use on a daily basis for development. Running VMs with Linux and Windows didn't help so I jumped on board the new 15" MacBook with Retina display because I could get 16GB of RAM in it. The added bonus was a free copy of Mountain Lion when it was released. I'm still waiting on my download code from Apple's up-to-date program and that's a bit surprising.

If you haven't experienced the up-to-date program, it's really baffling why Apple didn't spend a few more days to make the whole experience better. The forms start off by asking for some very basic information - name, address, date of purchase and email. From there, they then ask you to enter the serial number for the qualifying hardware that you purchased. When it's all said and done, you get a request confirmation code and the note that a promo code for the AppStore will be emailed to you.

This seems backwards. First, Apple obviously tracks the purchase order for every piece of hardware and ties the serial number to the purchase order. ERP systems like SAP and Oracle have been doing this for years so simply knowing the serial number would enable them to know when and who purchased the machine. This would tell them which machines qualify for free upgrades to Mountain Lion and which don't. I'm not sure what's taking so long to verify my purchase but given the speed of database queries, I'm guessing they dropped the ball or implemented some process where every request needs to be manually confirmed.

Second, the AppStore should make this whole web request process obsolete. The machine's serial number that I input on the up-to-date form came from the System Info utility. The AppStore program should have done the same lookup on my machine, send a query to the backend to determine if I qualify for the upgrade and then tie the upgrade to my machine and Apple ID. This was the biggest reason to own all the pieces of the product pipeline and why people love Apple products. This type of web form and wait process feels like something Dell or HP would do. This is seriously the best we can expect from Tim Cook?

There is a positive in all this - I have to wait a day or two before I can upgrade and thus watch to see if there are any major bugs that would change my mind.

Update: Two days later, I finally got a response from Apple. Turns out that they generate a PDF document with a redemption code protected by a password and email that to you. The password comes in a second PDF document and then you need to open AppStore and redeem it. For a company that enables checkout with smartphones in their brick and mortar stores, this seems very backwards and way to complicated. Hopefully the AppStore team is already streamlining this process for the next Mac OS release.

Tags: ux rants
Dan Hable's Picture

Dan Hable