Apple delivers OS X Lion to Mac App Store

Slow Internet connection? Wait until August for US$70 flash drive

Apple today launched OS X Lion, the first major upgrade to its operating system software in two years.

As promised yesterday by the company's chief financial officer, Mac OS X 10.7, aka Lion, was released to the Mac App Store early Wednesday. Initially, Lion will be available only as a download from Apple's online mart.

Lion is initially available only as a 3.7GB download from the Mac App Store.

The installer weighs in at approximately 3.5GB, according to the Mac App Store, although the download retrieved by Computerworld was pegged at 3.74 GB.

Mac owners with a slow Internet connection can, as Apple said previously, download the upgrade at any Apple retail store , or for that matter, at any public Wi-Fi hotspot.

But Apple introduced a new twist today, saying that it will offer a Mac App Store bypass: Apple will sell a USB flash drive containing the Lion installer next month for US$69.99. The company did not specify the date in August on which it will begin selling the flash drive on its online store.

Lion requires Snow Leopard, Mac OS X 10.6.6 or later, Apple said in a statement and on the Mac App Store. That requirement was counter to earlier statements by Apple that the upgrade would demand the slightly newer 10.6.8 instead.

First previewed in October 2010 by CEO Steve Jobs, then touted in more detail at Apple's annual developer conference in June, Lion was dubbed "Mac OS X meets the iPad" by Jobs to emphasize that parts of Lion, notably its multi-touch gesture support, had been inspired by iOS.

Apple also published more information on its website for the Lion Up to Date Program , which provides a free copy of the new operating system to anyone who bought a new Mac between June 6 and today.

Lion is priced at US$29.99 and is available from the Mac App Store .

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is gkeizer@computerworld.com .

Read more about mac os in Computerworld's Mac OS Topic Center.

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