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Airport Extreme Air Disk, and 801.11n Upgrades $4.99 [Update]

OReillynet.com notes that the quietly updated Airport Extreme Basestation incorporates a new feature called Airport Disk:

New to AirPort Extreme, AirPort Disk turns almost any external USB hard drive into a shared drive. Simply connect the drive to the USB port on the back of your AirPort Extreme and voila all the documents, videos, photos, and other files on the drive instantly become available to anyone on the secure network, Mac and PC alike. Its perfect for backups, collaborative projects, and more.


The new Airport Extreme basestations support the faster 802.11n protocol which is now shipping with all new Macs. Unfortunately, existing Mac customers (with inactive 802.11n hardware) need to run a special installer that is only included with the new base stations to activate the "n" portion of their wireless hardware. Apple started quitely shipping a number of their recent Macs with inactive 802.11n hardware:
- iMac with Intel Core 2 Duo (except 17-inch, 1.83GHz iMac)
- MacBook with Intel Core 2 Duo
- MacBook Pro with Intel Core 2 Duo
- Mac Pro with AirPort Extreme card option

iLounge offers an unsatisfying explanation for the reason that the installer is only being bundled with the new base stations:


Because of the [Sarbanes-Oxley Act], the company believes that if it sells a product, then later adds a feature to that product, it can be held liable for improper accounting if it recognizes revenue from the product at the time of sale, given that it hasnt finished delivering the product at that point.


Of interest, surrounding the release of the 802.11n basestation, we heard claims that Apple would eventually be offering the 802.11n installer for $4.99. At that time, the upgrade fee made little sense, but now appears to be due to the account issue described by iLounge.

Update: MacRumors has received confirmation that Apple will be releasing Airport Extreme 802.11n Enabler 1.0 for US $4.99 in February.