For 'developers' willing to shell out $99 for an annual membership in Apple's group of Mac OS app creators, Lion is old news already. But the rest of you can finally download Apple's latest operating system -- Mac OS 10.7 -- by hitting up the App Store on your Snow Leopard (10.6.8)-equipped Mac, assuming it's powered by an Intel Core 2 Duo, Core i3, i5 or i7 processor. From our experience with the pre-release version, the 4GB download could take over an hour, even on a high-speed connection, but once you have the installer in hand the upgrade process itself should be complete in about 20 minutes. As Apple previously announced, those with slower connections can also download Lion at an Apple retail store, and the company's also now revealed that it will be offering it on a USB thumb drive as well, which will be available through its online store later this August for $69 (yes, that's a $40 premium). We'll be posting a full review of Lion later this week, but you can check out our hands-on preview for a sneak peek at Apple's latest consumer OS in the meantime.
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Mac OS X Lion Available Today From the Mac App Store

CUPERTINO, California-July 20, 2011-Apple® today announced that Mac OS® X Lion, the eighth major release of the world's most advanced operating system with more than 250 new features, is available today as a download from the Mac® App Store™ for $29.99. Some of the amazing features in Lion include: new Multi-Touch® gestures; system-wide support for full screen apps; Mission Control, an innovative view of everything running on your Mac; the Mac App Store, the best place to find and explore great software, built right into the OS; Launchpad, a new home for all your apps; and a completely redesigned Mail app.

"Lion is the best version of OS X yet, and we're thrilled that users around the world can download it starting today," said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. "Lion makes upgrading a Mac easier than ever before; just launch the Mac App Store, buy Lion with your iTunes account, and the download and install process will begin automatically."

Additional new features in Lion include:

Resume, which conveniently brings your apps back exactly how you left them when you restart your Mac or quit and relaunch an app; Auto Save, which automatically and continuously saves your documents as you work; Versions, which automatically records the history of your document as you create it, and gives you an easy way to browse, revert and even copy and paste from previous versions; and AirDrop, which finds nearby Macs and automatically sets up a peer-to-peer wireless connection to make transferring files quick and easy.

Pricing & Availability

Mac OS X Lion is available as an upgrade to Mac OS X version 10.6.6 Snow Leopard® from the Mac App Store for $29.99 (US). Lion is the easiest OS X upgrade and at around 4GB, it is about the size of an HD movie from the iTunes Store®. Users who do not have broadband access at home, work or school can download Lion at Apple retail stores and later this August, Lion will be made available on a USB thumb drive through the Apple Store® (www.apple.com) for $69 (US). Mac OS X Lion Server requires Lion and is available from the Mac App Store for $49.99 (US).

Lion requires an Intel-based Mac with a Core 2 Duo, i3, i5, i7 or Xeon processor and 2GB of RAM. Lion is an upgrade and can be installed on all your authorized personal Macs. Details regarding Business and Education licensing can be found at apple.com/macosx.

The OS X Lion Up-to-Date upgrade will be available through the Mac App Store at no additional charge to all customers who purchased a qualifying new Mac system from Apple or an Apple Authorized Reseller on or after June 6, 2011. Users must request their Up-to-Date upgrade within 30 days of purchase of their Mac computer. Customers who purchased a qualifying Mac between June 6, 2011 and July 20, 2011 will have until August 19, 2011 to make a request. Additional information can be found at apple.com/macosx/uptodate.

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Apple Mac OS X Lion available now in the App Store