RE: Premium resellers fear criticizing Apple?
Yup, they sure will. <cough>ty years ago I ran a small Apple dealership with some friends, it can be summed up by nice product, shame about the ******* we have to deal with. It would be hard to imagine how Apple as a company could have been harder to deal with, and whether they could have tried even harder to make life difficult for dealers.
Back then it was clear that the rules of the dealership contract were there to be enforced or not according to whether it suited Apple. So certain dealers got "extended credit" while others were shat on from a height if all bills weren't paid on time - it was a time of recession, funny how these things come round again. It all depended on whether your corporate image suited them.
Back then, Apple was still reliant on it's dealers, and especially the premium ones under the AppleCentre brand. It came to a head when a number of the larger ones called Apple's bluff (they weren't happy at the very sloping playing field), and called their account manager for a meeting. Once the account managers reported back to Apple that a number of large dealers had piles of IBM boxes in the showroom, a certain big dealer that had been allowed "extended credit" suddenly folded.
Today, Apple isn't reliant on it's dealers - it has it's own stores, it has it's web store. So even if all of the dealers clubbed together, Apple would tell them to f***-off. So yes, they are scared to criticise Apple openly, for if they do, then they can reasonably expect to a) have every tiny detail of their business scrutinised to see if there's any excuse to terminate them, and b) they are likely to face unfortunate product shortages when they try to order stock.
As for download only, I'd need to see the details. In particular, whether I can burn it and make a bootable disk - if not, then WTF do I do if/when I need to reinstall a system ?