updated 10:05 am EDT, Wed July 20, 2011
Lion arrives with promise of USB flash drive versi
Apple as promised posted Mac OS X Lion for download ($30, Mac App Store) as well as the Lion Server add-on ($50, Mac App Store) with the promise of a physical version. The OS we just reviewed gives Snow Leopard users an upgrade to the iOS-influenced software and is the first that won't need a disc. Those who face low bandwidth caps or have slow connections have been invited to download Lion at Apple's retail stores.
As a concession to those who don't have reliable Internet access or who want the reassurance of a physical copy, Apple has also acknowledged that the online Apple Store will be carrying Lion preloaded on to a USB flash drive. The release due "later this August" will cost $69, likely owed to the need for at least a 4GB flash drive and packaging. Anyone who buys a new Mac will already have the OS either on a restore DVD or USB stick.
The strategy makes Apple the first major OS developer to ship its release on a USB drive as well as the first to make the download the primary method, not a secondary option. Microsoft still sells Windows 7 primarily on discs and makes the download an option mostly for those who don't have optical drives and are comfortable with creating an OS image on a USB drive themselves.