Why the MacBook Air must wait for OS X Lion to be unleashed

“The imminent launch of an upgraded MacBook Air, complete with Sandy Bridge chipset and Thunderbolt connector, is about is about as open as secrets get where Apple is concerned,” Kenny Hemphill reports for MacUser.

“It seems, though, that we may have to wait just a little longer. AppleInsider reports that Apple will wait until Lion ships before releasing the new Air,” Hemphill reports. “That makes perfect sense to me.”

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Hemphill writes, “If the first batch of MacBook Airs shipped with Snow Leopard, two things would happen. Potential buyers would delay their purchase, leaving Apple with unsold stock which would need to be upgraded to Lion, and those who did buy a Snow Leopard Air would be angry at having an out of date machine so soon after they bought it.”

MacDailyNews Take: Yes, some might delay purchase until OS X Lion can be preloaded, but, no, there won’t be “angry” customers: Apple’s OS X Up to Date program will take care of new Mac buyers just like it has with every major OS X release.

Hemphill writes, “A solid state, low storage-capacity, notebook with no optical storage is the perfect showcase for iCloud and some of Lion’s new features, such as the new Recovery mode, and multi-touch gestures. It’s not by accident that Apple uses an Air on its website to show-off Lion. It’s saying: Lion and ultra-slim notebooks, this is the future of the Mac.”

Read more in the full article here.


  1. Wrong on this one MDN. Many people will feel that they didn’t get the latest if they find out a few weeks later that they could have had Lion on it out of the box. Even though it’s a free update, some just don’t feel that way.

    1. You are right. A few Windows switchers will think they have an arduous task ahead of themselves, upgrading the OS.

      The other 90 million Mac users are laughing at you.

          1. I personally have 3…
            G4 Mac mini, yes the first one…
            PowerMac g4, may never sell it.
            PowerMac g5, I should sell it.

            I use the g5 as a server for my house (media/etc) tempted to sell it and just grab a new shiny mini.

      1. My younger sister (an avid Windows supporter) bought her graduating daughter a new MB Air on 6/5/2011 – the day before Apple’s Keynote for Lion. She was so POed she took the MB Air back to an Apple Store and demanded to return it because she wouldn’t have the most up to date OS. The Apple Store told her she could return it for a restocking fee (I think 10%). So she stormed out of the store with the Air still in hand, even more POed. When she called me to start slamming Apple, I told her Lion would only cost $30. Then she calmed down … until I told her the new Sandy Bridge / ThunderBolted Airs were right around the corner … HAHA! That’s what she gets for not consulting me first. I would have told her to wait for the upgrade, which would have Lion preinstalled as well.

          1. Sounds like a guy who actually does his research on products before he buys them. Sounds like she got duped.

            When I go out to invest that much money in something I’m not knowledgeable in I tend to consult other people who do have that knowledge. When I screw around and don’t get that knowledge before-hand they have every right to mock my stupidity mercilessly.

    2. Really? I don’t think so. I think those buyers would have bought anyway, either due to need or want, and would be happy that Apple offered a free upgrade to the latest, greatest OS X version. If they feel they were getting something out of date (which the hardware is going to be out of date if new MB Airs come out), then they should have waited. That’s the way technology works.

    3. i have to agree with you and Apple. People always want the latest and greatest. If they bought a MacBook Air, and two weeks later a new OS was released, the buyer wouldn’t feel that he/she/it bought the latest and greatest. It would create a negative feeling, not a positive one.

      1. 95% of the people waiting to buy an air… Know lion is next month.

        They wouldn’t care about the update, it would be free for them and they know it.
        The people that would be mad… Would be recent windblows converts.

        If I were buying an air today, it wouldn’t bother me. Would give me the option to run snow leopard if lion isn’t 100% to my liking yet.

        I can understand if apple is waiting, but they don’t have too do so.

    4. And not just that. Some customers won’t know of it because they may have misheard, and when they later hear that they’ve missed out on the cut off date… they’re even more pissed and it’ll end up costing Apple even more when you count the hrs they call to Tech and Customer relations.

      Been there and done that when I was working in Applecare.

  2. I don’t think they’ll be finding out a few weeks later. It’s not like Apple is hiding anything. Anyway, anyone forking out over a grand for a notebook without doing any homework is not the kind of customer you’re going to be able to satisfy, no matter what you do. If you acquire any info on how easy it is to upgrade OS X, particularly on line, there’s no reason to delay your purchase.

  3. When you buy a PC, you end up with a lot of junkware, demons, and software that duplicates system features (wifi driver, disk burner, backup software, and so on. You have to figure out which to remove and which to keep, plus you have to purchase a subscription to the demo anti-malware. It can take a day to clean it up.

    When you buy a Mac, you just turn it on and work.

    Buying a Mac with an operating system that’s going to be superseded in a month is a little too Microsoftish, no matter how easy the upgrade is. Some non-geek computer users are leery of upgrades, and others might forget to do it until they have to pay for it. I have a friend in another state who was still running Leopard because he had not even heard of Snow Leopard. He didn’t know the Apple in the corner was a menu; he thought it was just branding. He’s a church organist, how would he know? He’s the “rest of us” the Mac is supposed to accommodate.

    Apple is wise to withhold new hardware until Lion comes out.

  4. I said “junkware, demons, and software” but I meant “junkware, demos, and software” I guess it was a Freudian slip. I won’t going anywhere near a Windows machine without garlic and a crucifix.

    1. I read it as “demons” the first time and didn’t bat an eye because I thought that was a perfect way to describe the evil that possesses a new PC and afflicts the user from the point of acquisition onward.

  5. When people realize the MBA with SandyBridge heats up like a 4th of july grill there will be a lot of holding off for the IvyBridge edition next year. It ain’t Lion people are going to wait for, it’s IvyBridge.

    Meanwhile, if you want a thin machine to show off iCloud get the current MBA while they’re available and later upgrade to Lion. They’ll have better graphics than the upcoming new Airs, have plenty of power and run as cool as a cucumber.

    1. Jon_Doh said, “When people realize the MBA with SandyBridge heats up like a 4th of july grill there will be a lot of holding off for the IvyBridge edition next year. It ain’t Lion people are going to wait for, it’s IvyBridge.”
      IMHO the new MacBook Air will use a low power version of the “Sandy Bridge” processor and anyone who expects the performance of the “Sandy Bridge” found in a MacBook Pro will be dissappointed. Ivy Bridge with it’s die shrink and tri-gate transistors might solve the problem.

  6. I think Apple want as many people to have Lion as possible because iCloud will only work on that. The big problem for Apple is that current inventory will not SL on them.
    A lot of average users never upgrade the OS on their machine after they purchase it. Most are unaware of a new version or just can’t be bothered.
    I bet all machines sold in stores will be upgraded by Apple personnel before being handed off to customers. The same for Apple online sales. Only machines sold by third party vendors will still have SL on them until the new inventory is added.
    Apple are going out of their way to help you get Lion. $29 downloadable installer that can be applied on any machine you own. That is basically giving it away.

  7. I do not think Apple is updating the MacBook Air with Sandy Bridge, etc.
    Too much power, too hot. Not true.
    More research and less hype would be good here.
    Nothing to do with Lion. Period.

    1. True. I have a MBP with Thunderbolt but am getting no use from it (thunderbolt) right now. I will be excited when actual Thunderbolt hard drives are available.

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