When Apple announced that they were going fully DRM-free earlier this month, I hailed it as a good sign. In fact, with Windows 7 picking up AAC compatibility across the board, iTunes’ use of 256 Mbps non-protected AAC files suddenly makes more sense, and that service is among those offering the highest quality songs. There was just one niggling problem: If you wanted to upgrade your existing collection of purchased iTunes music (i.e. 128 Kbps Protected AAC junk), you had to upgrade the whole collection. You couldn’t just pick and choose which songs to upgrade. According to Macworld (yes, they’re apparently still around), that’s changed:

Apple has dispensed with the iTunes Store all-or-nothing upgrade policy.

Until today, anyone who wished to upgrade his or her music from iTunes’ protected format to iTunes Plus was required to upgrade every track in his or her library. That’s no longer the case. Travel to the iTunes Plus upgrade page (which you can do by clicking on the Upgrade To iTunes Plus link on the Store’s Home page) and you’ll discover that not only can you click on a large Buy All button to upgrade your entire protected collection, but you can now click Buy buttons next to the protected albums or tracks in your library. When you first do so, you’ll be prompted to agree to a new license agreement. Once you do that, you’re free to upgrade songs, albums, or music videos individually.

Prices haven’t changed. It still costs 30-cents to upgrade a track, approximately one-third of an album’s current purchase price to upgrade the album ($9.99 albums can be upgraded for $3), and it costs 60 cents to upgrade a music video.

So, kudos to Apple for doing that, finally. But raspberries all around because the company knew in advance that its biggest fans would simply knee-jerk their Mastercards out of their wallets and buy the all-or-nothing upgrade no questions asked, even though they long ago stopped listening to that “Rockwell’s Greatest Hits” album they bought in a fit of drunken stupidity. Those who “Think Different” (you know, the crazy ones) already ponied up to rebuy their entire collection. (Admit it, you did.) Those with clearer heads (and the more discriminating musical taste that comes with age) can now save some money.

Thanks to James W. for the tip.