A correspondent writes that he was able to use an Apple AirPort card to connect to a WiFi network at a Starbucks in Seattle (on Capitol Hill at E. John). He writes, "I get 2 out of 5 [signal strength bars] in most of the store, because the base station is mounted toward the back...in fact, I get better reception from the outdoor area, where I can get 4 out of 5 and no dropping. Overall it is very nice..."
Starbucks had planned originally to have some stores in Seattle up and running by the end of March, but as reported earlier on this site, their wireless network partner, MobileStar, appeared to be sorting out their own internal management issues. MobileStar recently announced that IBM will be installing their network, and it would appear that that effort will now swing into high gear.
A press release from Starbucks on May 1 extols Compaq as their "in-store Internet access device provider for the wireless broadband network". This means that Compaq will provide devices that customers can use (rent?) in stores, including their iPaq. (I used an iPaq recently, and found it to be mostly poorly designed for the handheld features it should offer.)
The press release talks about Starbucks and Microsoft partnering on the wireless network with nary a mention of MobileStar. I'll be curious to see how this develops, as you would expect that firm to want to have their name on the marquee of their venture, given that they are spending tens of millions of dollars to build Starbucks network.
One of the largest Starbucks in Seattle is near my office, and the staff there have said that equipment has been put in place, but the network is not yet live. However, a Starbucks sales rep was observed using the network, possible via a closed network system in which only those who know the network name can gain access.