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Hands-on with Amazon's Mac software store

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

Of course, and related to these license issues, installing a Mac App Store-purchased program on a second computer is as easy as signing in to the Mac App Store on the second computer and clicking the Install button next to the desired program. With Amazon software purchases, you either need to access your online Software Library from the second computer and then go through the download and installation processes explained above, or you need to copy the installation disk image—assuming you still have it—from the original computer to the second computer, and then install the software, manually entering your license key, if applicable.

The other major benefit of the Mac App Store is software updates. Launch the Mac App Store app and click the Updates button, and you see any updates available for any of your App Store-purchased programs. Click Update All and all those updates are downloaded and installed without any further action on your part. You update Amazon-purchased software the old-fashioned way:

Some games and software will automatically look for patches and updates for you. For other products which do not automatically update, you may need to find updates and patches directly on the product manufacturer’s website.

All of which leads to the obvious question: If buying software from Amazon’s downloadable-software store is so much like buying a boxed copy, what’s the advantage of using the online retailer’s Mac Software Downloads store? It’s not necessarily price—the two-computer boxed copy of Office Mac Home and Business 2011 currently sells for $1 less than the download version; the boxed version of Final Draft 8 is $5 less than the download version; and the boxed version of Dragon Age 2 costs the same $42 as the download version. The Amazon download stores’ main benefits compared to boxed software seem to be immediate availability (vs. physical delivery); a central place for all your Amazon-purchased downloads; and a consolidated list of all your Amazon-purchased software licenses.

(How do the two stores compare in terms of pricing? As an example, Borderlands Game of the Year Edition, which is available from both Amazon and Apple, currently sells for $50 on both stores. However, until the Amazon Mac Software Downloads store carries more titles that are also available on Apple’s store, we can't make any definitive conclusions about comparative prices.)


Suffering by comparison

If the Mac App Store didn’t exist, I would be pleased that Amazon had made more Mac software available to download and that I could browse through it all in one place, but I’d recognize that there’s not much new here. Of course, having more places to buy Mac software is a good thing, and Amazon’s aggressive pricing means that as the store gains more titles, you’ll likely be able to find deals on quality software (even if you could often get the physical version of the software for a similar price).


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