How to upgrade to OS X Lion

Mac OS X 10.7's coming in July; Here's what we know so far about the upgrade path

On Monday, Apple said it would ship Mac OS X 10.7, aka "Lion," next month, and sell it exclusively through its own Mac App Store for $29.99.

Good news, right?

That depends. Although Apple revealed some information about upgrading to Lion -- an operating system that one analyst said was more impressive than what the company's spelled out for iOS 5, the fall mobile OS update -- there are plenty of questions remaining.

To quote former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, there are "things we know that we know, and there are known unknowns [and] there are things we do not know we don't know."

Clear?

As mud. But we'll ask and answer the questions about upgrading to Lion with what we know now, and leave the things we do not know we don't know until later.

When can I get Lion? In July, says Apple.

The company's not narrowed the release date more than the month, however.

The last time Apple shipped an operating system -- that was Snow Leopard in 2009 -- it released the OS on the last Friday of August. If Friday is a magic day of some sort, there are five next month -- July 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29 -- leaving multiple opportunities.

Apple likely will spell out the release date shortly before it pulls the trigger and puts Lion in the Mac App Store. But don't expect a lot of warning.

In 2009, it announced Snow Leopard's on-sale date and began taking pre-orders just four days before the upgrade hit retail and the Apple online store. Obviously, with Lion available only as a download, there won't be any pre-orders.

How much will it cost? $29.99, or 99 cents more than Snow Leopard.

That makes Apple's operating system a quarter the price of Windows 7's most popular upgrade, the $120 Windows 7 Home Premium.

Some analysts had predicted that Apple would repeat its 2009 move, when it reduced the price of Snow Leopard to $29. At the time, Apple credited the drop from the usual $129 price of an operating system to the fact that Snow Leopard was a minor refresh, more a series of tweaks than a new edition.

Because Apple said nothing of the sort yesterday during its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) keynote when it announced Lion's price, you can assume that the $29.99 price is a new model, perhaps prompted by the online delivery process, which eliminates the DVD, packaging and retail markup.

Instead, Philip Schiller, Apple's head of marketing, said during the WWDC keynote Monday, "We love it so much that we want to make it available to more people."

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