updated 09:45 pm EST, Fri February 17, 2012
Apple to make Mountain Lion truly download only
Apple stated Friday that the launch of OS X Mountain Lion would be truly download-only. The Mac maker briefed Pocket-lint that it wouldn't stock versions preloaded on USB drives like it has with the current Lion release. Offering a physical option was an "interesting test," but the Mac App Store was "just fine" in practice for getting a copy, Apple said.
Not mentioned was whether or not users could still create their own disk image and load that on a USB drive or a disc. The options were never official and will likely still be an option given that the Lion installer was ultimately a package with a typical install image inside.
The USB option had been made available weeks after the Mac App Store release as a fallback. At the time, many were still using Leopard or otherwise didn't have access to the Mac App Store. Likewise, many systems wouldn't have had the full option of using Lion Recovery. Macs from the 2011 MacBook Air onwards have the recovery built-in, while many 2010-era systems have had it retrofitted through updates.
As of the late summer release of Mountain Lion, Apple will have had the distinction of offering the first truly major desktop operating system to be available solely online. Microsoft offers Windows 7 online today, but it's intended for loading on to a physical drive.