Apple today launched OS X Mountain Lion, the ninth version of the 11-year-old Mac operating system.
As promised yesterday by the company's chief financial officer, Mac OS X 10.8, aka Mountain Lion, was released to the Mac App Store early Wednesday. Mountain Lion will be available only as a download from Apple's online market.
The installer tips the bit scales at just over 4GB, according to the Mac App Store.
Mac owners with a slow or aggressively metered Internet connection can download the upgrade using any Apple retail store's Wi-Fi network, or a public hotspot.
Mountain Lion requires a Mac with an Intel Core 2 Duo, Core i3, Core i5, Core i7 or Xeon processor, although some machines with those chips cannot be upgraded; 2GB of memory; 8GB of available storage space; and OS X Lion or Snow Leopard 10.6.8. Users running a version of Snow Leopard prior to the June 2011 10.6.8 must update their machines prior to heading to the Mac App Store.
According to Internet analytics company Net Applications, 84% of the in-use Macs run either Lion or Snow Leopard.
Apple publicly unveiled OS X 10.8 in June at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), when the company described some of its features, announced that it would ship at some point during the summer, and set the price at $19.99.
That price tag was a third less than last year's Lion, and made Mountain Lion the third-consecutive OS X upgrade to cost less than $30.
Also today, Apple began taking requests for a free copy of Mountain Lion from customers who have purchased a new Mac on or after June 11. To obtain the code necessary to download the free upgrade, users must fill out the form on the Up-to-Date Program's website.
Rival Microsoft is also upgrading Windows this year, and like Apple, has reduced the price. An upgrade to Windows 8 Pro will sell for $39.99, or 20% less than the lowest price for Windows 7 three years. Windows 8 ships Oct. 26.
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 email@example.com.