OS X Mountain Lion will be Mac Store only, Apple tells us USB key will not be available

Apple has confirmed that the next version of its desktop operating system, OS X Mountain Lion, will be available to customers only via the Mac App Store when it comes out this summer.

The new update, which is released as a developer preview on Thursday 16 February, means that Apple has finally ditched all form of hard media to distribute all its operating systems and is likely to spell the end of the DVD disk for software in the future.

The move to software downloads away from disk installs began with the launch of the Mac Apple Store in Snow Leopard. Aside from letting you download the current Mac operating system, Mac OS X 10.7 Lion -available as a digital download through the store when it launched in 2011 - the Mac App Store, much like the App Store for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod, allowed users to download software for a range of applications.

The Mac App Store is now the home for all Apple software as well as other software from companies such as Adobe and Intuit. 

At the time, Apple seemed to be worried that some customers might be put off by a digital download-only offering, and opted to allow them the chance to either go into an Apple store and have the new OS installed by a sales representative or buy a USB drive with the OS installed on it rather than a DVD disk.

Including installs on new Apple Macs, Apple says that it has virtually shipped more than19 million copies of the current operating system, Lion, to date, with a 30 per cent uptake from Snow Leopard users, suggesting the digital download path has been a successful one. 

Apple has confirmed to Pocket-lint though that its concerns weren't justified with customers not remotely interested in the USB drive offering:

"It was an interesting test, but it turns out the App Store was just fine for getting the new OS."

The new OS, which has been released as a developer preview (download only), is expected to be available for customers at a yet unspecified date sometime over the summer.

Those who can't wait to till then will be able to digitally download (of course) the new Apple developer preview of Mountain Lion to experience the new operating system, beta bugs and all.

- For more news on the latest from OS X Mountain Lion check out our dedicated Mac OS X homepage.