Head to Head: Intel AppUp vs Apple Mac App Store

App stores aren't just for smartphones - they're now invading our desktops. But which model should the industry follow - Intel's netbook-focussed shopfront or Apple's tightly-policed App Store?

DRM

Following the example of smartphone app stores, both AppUp and the Mac App Store employ Digital Rights Management (DRM), or copy protection, to try and prevent piracy. Both stores use very similar copy protection methods. Thankfully, neither appear to be as restrictive as the iPhone App Store.

Intel AppUp

Apps downloaded from AppUp can be used on up to five Windows computers. We suspect this is intended purely for personal, household use rather than as a substitute for volume licensing.

The AppUp program itself therefore needs to be installed on each computer you want to use your apps. Our casual attempts to run AppUp-purchased software on non-authorised computers were unsuccessful.

Each computer needs to receive authorisation from Intel's servers the first time each app is run. The apps need periodic reauthorisation Intel recommends that your computer be connected to the Internet at least once a week for this to take place. This shouldn't be a problem for most, but might prove troublesome for laptop users who travel frequently and connect to the internet infrequently.

Mac App Store

As with AppUp, software purchased from the Mac App Store can be run on up to five Macs as long as they're running MacOS X 10.6.6 and you've logged in to your App Store account at least once. As far as we can tell, apps don't need periodic reauthorisation.

However, enthusiasts on the internet have already found ways to bypass this requirement. In addition, some apps are easier to copy illegally than others we found that some apps could be copied to another Mac unhindered without any special effort.

The five computer limit is intended for use in a household, rather than in a business so it's no substitute for volume licensing. Apple specifically prohibits apps from using their own copy protection/DRM schemes. We suspect this is one of the reasons why some longstanding, popular apps, such as Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft Office, aren't currently available on the App Store they use their own activation systems.

Winner: Tie. There's little difference between the copy protection in AppUp and the Mac App Store. Both strive to be as unobtrusive as possible, but it's a shame neither store has implemented a volume licensing scheme for businesses.

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