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

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To upgrade three Windows PCs to Windows 7 via Microsoft's $150 Family Pack would end up costing $50 per machine.

Bargain time!

I have scores of Macs in my business ... how to I upgrade to Lion? We don't know. And Apple's not saying.

Although we asked Apple to clarify several aspects of the Lion upgrade process -- including whether it will make available an alternative upgrade path to businesses, organizations and schools that could have hundreds of Macs, the company didn't immediately respond.

Some users anticipated major problems if all that was available was the Mac App Store.

"ABSOLUTE BLEEDIN' NIGHTMARE!" said someone identified as Peter Vandoorn today on an Apple support forum. "Come on Apple -- you HAVE to release the Lion installer on DVD!"

Others couldn't believe the company would leave them in the lurch without means of making physical media that could conceivably be used to install Lion.

"Just because Apple has not announced a particular set of licensing terms for its release date, does not mean it won't have any," countered "a brody" on the same thread.

I have to have Snow Leopard on my Mac(s) before I can upgrade to Lion? Yes, that's what Apple says. "Get up to date with the latest version of OS X Snow Leopard to purchase OS X Lion from the Mac App Store," Apple advises on its site.

That requirement stems from Lion's Mac App Store distribution; Snow Leopard is the only Mac OS X edition that supports the e-mart. (Apple updated Snow Leopard Jan. 6 2011 to add the Mac App Store.)

I'm still running Leopard.... What do I do to get Lion? We don't know, yet. This was another question we asked Apple. Again, no reply.

If your Mac supports Lion -- meaning it has a Core 2 Duo or later processor -- you could conceivably do a two-step upgrade, to Snow Leopard now (for $29), then to Lion (for $30) next month.

Or Apple could duplicate what it did with Snow Leopard, when it offered a higher-priced "Mac Box Set" for $129. That collection let users of Mac OS X 10.5, aka Leopard, update to Snow Leopard without the intermediate step to Leopard, and provided the newest versions of the iLife suite as well.

But no one knows whether that will be available.

"As of now Apple has not established a clear path to upgrade from Leopard to Lion," pointed out "vea1083" on a different support thread yesterday. "I would suggest to wait for an announcement as the launch date gets closer."

What happened to the "Mac" in "Mac OS X" with Lion? Poof. Looks like Apple's decided to call Lion "OS X Lion" rather than use the years-long label of "Mac OS X" for its desktop operating system.

All the messaging on Apple's site uses the slimmed-down tag, but in the press release the company issued after the WWDC keynote, it used the full label.


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

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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