The last few months Apple secretly shipped most of its Core 2 Duo Mac systems with inactive support for the WiFi 802.11 draft specification. Apple confirmed this last week and says Macs like the Core 2 Duo MacBook, Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro, Mac Pro with AirPort Extreme, and the Core 2 Duo iMac (with the exception of the 17-inch 1.83GHz model) that are currently shipping all have 802.11n support.
However, to enable it people will need to pay:
The company said that it plans to offer an "AirPort Extreme 802.11n Enabler 1.0" patch next month when it begins shipping its new AirPort Extreme Base Station, which will activate the technology.
"Most new Mac computers ship with built-in 802.11n wireless support that can be easily enabled with the installation of enabler software included with new AirPort Extreme wireless base station," Apple wrote on its website.
What the company did not say is that Core 2 Duo Mac owners who want to unlock 802.11n capabilities for use with third party wireless solutions will have to pay a small $4.99 fee before downloading the 802.11n enabler patch.
Reasons behind the move -- and such a small obnoxious fee -- are not necessarily clear at the moment. However, iLounge's Jeremy Horwitz is offering an explanation from some Apple representatives present at last week's Macworld Expo.
More info at Apple Insider, who heard this fee may stem from the "Sarbanes-Oxley Act" law