When I was reading Yuval Kossovsky's review of the new Intel-based Apple Xserve just now, one key paragraph leapt out at me.

"Leopard server" [the new release] is expected to be out in early 2007, so when buying a new Xserve be sure to get the operating system maintenance plan to guarantee you'll get the new server operating system at no additional charge when it emerges from its lair"

Now, I really like Apple kit. I used to be a Mac specialist in a previous life, and I stuck with Macs right up until the point when I absolutely had to start using Windows. The new Intel Macs feel fast, and they're priced right. And they're Unix, so I (as a Unix kiddie of old) have been able very quickly to develop some CTI software for a Mac-heavy client. But why are OS upgrades so darned expensive?

One of my clients, for example, has OS X Server 10.3.9, unlimited user version. He'd like to move to 10.4 because it has a couple of nice things that 10.3.9 doesn't have (specifically static IP-to-MAC-address in the DHCP server and centralised distribution of updates). The cost? £699 + VAT. Rearrange the following into a well-known phrase: "Off rip bleeding".

Dumb concept number one is that there isn't an upgrade price. To buy a new copy of MacOS X Server costs exactly the same as to buy an upgrade. When I looked on Apple's online store I figured that there must be an upgrade option and I just hadn't found it, but when I phoned Apple a nice man called Brian told me: "You have to buy the full version, I'm afraid".

Mostly dumb concept number two is that I consider the jumps between versions of MacOS X (i.e. 10.1 to 10.2, 10.3 to 10.4, etc) to be synonymous with jumps between service pack releases of Windows. That is, they add a few new-but-not-all-that-stunning features, plus a load of bugfixes and the occasional feature that should have been there since day one but wasn't. Microsoft charges £0 for such updates; Apple charges £699 plus VAT.

My client would probably make the upgrade if it was, say, a couple of hundred quid. As it is, they've worked around the problem by running the DHCP server on a different device and not bothering with centralised software updates. Surely they're not alone, which means Apple is losing sales for the sake of implementing a pretty simple upgrade scheme.

So, Apple: please will you tell us why there's no thing as an upgrade for MacOS?