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Hands-on with Amazon's Mac software store

Dan Frakes, Macworld.com | May 27, 2011
Amazon’s Mac software store offers some benefits, but falls short of Apple’s Mac App Store

Granted, part of the hassle here was due to the fact that I opted to purchase Adobe software, and Adobe has one of the worst records around when it comes to making software installation easy and simple. But even with an easier-to-install package—for example, the currently free game Airport Mania: First Flight—the process isn’t nearly as simple as if I’d purchased something off the Mac App Store. Clicking Install in the downloader app simply mounted the AirPort Mania disk image; I had to manually drag the AirPortMania.app program to my Applications folder. And when I was done, I had to manually quit the downloader program.

In other words, whereas the Mac App Store handles the entire process of obtaining and installing software, Amazon’s offering essentially replaces only the parts of the traditional software-buying process up until you've inserted the software CD or DVD in your optical drive. Past that point, not much has changed—you still need to perform the installation manually, whatever that process may be for a particular piece of software.

 

The post-sale experience

There are also a number of after-sale differences between the Mac App Store and Amazon’s Mac-software store, and these details illustrate the different approaches taken by Apple and Amazon.

For example, while both the Mac App Store and Amazon’s download store let you re-download purchased software an unlimited number of times (from the Purchased screen in the Mac App Store, and via your online Software Library in Amazon), you can install Mac App Store-purchased programs on any computer on which you’ve provided your Mac App Store username and password. If you’ve got five Macs in your home, you can install your purchased software on each of those computers. For software purchased from Amazon’s download store, however, the terms are quite different. In fact, just like old-fashioned boxed software, the terms differ for each title. As Amazon explains on its Software Downloads Frequently Asked Questions page:

Each software manufacturer has a different policy on how many installations are allowed. The user licensing agreement that comes with the software you purchased tells you how many installations and users you are allowed with your purchase.

Which means that you, as the user, are responsible for figuring out what you can and can’t do with each bit of software you purchase from Amazon’s software store.

(Interestingly, if you purchase a Mac game, the policy appears to be a bit more flexible. While a game’s license code/product key may limit the number of computers on which you can install the game, the same FAQ notes that, “If you run out of installations for the product key you originally purchased from Amazon, please contact Customer Service and we will happily provide you with another key at no additional charge.”)

 

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