Apple offers Lion upgrade details for business, education customers

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If you’re an IT manager worried about how Lion’s Mac App Store-only distribution will affect your deployment of the new OS, perhaps some official instructions from Apple will alleviate your fears. On Friday, the company posted a PDF to its sales website detailing exactly how business and education customers can upgrade come July.

First reported on by TUAW, the document offers a basic overview for upgrading to Lion in regards to business and education, as well as confirmation regarding newly purchased Macs being eligible for a free OS upgrade. The PDF is available only to authorized purchasers on Apple's sales website, though MacRumors has posted a copy to its servers. We've asked Apple to confirm the details of the document; we'll update with Apple's response if the company elects to comment.

For those of you who don't feel like reading over the PDF, we've broken down the information for you in a few simple steps.

Buying Lion

Business customers: According to the document, business customers will be able to purchase Lion and Lion Server through the online Business Store or by calling Apple’s business line. Buyers will be able to purchase volume licenses for $30 a license (minimum 20 licenses). Maintenance contracts, which offer three free subsequent years of OS updates as part of Apple's Maintenance Program, will cost $50 a license (minimum 20 licenses). Lion Server will be available for an additional $50 from the Mac App Store; if you’re currently running Snow Leopard Server, you’ll have to buy both Lion and Lion Server at the same time to upgrade.

Education customers: Those buying Lion for a school can upgrade through their Apple Education Account Representative or through Apple’s online Education Store. Lion will be automatically bundled with iLife and iWork as part of the company’s Apple Software Collection, which starts at $39 per license (minimum 25 licenses).

New Mac owners: The PDF also confirms that customers who recently purchased a Mac should be entitled to a free upgrade to Lion. If you bought a qualifying new laptop or desktop from Apple or an Apple Authorized Reseller on or after June 6, you'll be entitled to a free upgrade to Lion as part of the company’s Up-to-Date program. According to the PDF, you’ll have 30 days after Lion’s release to request an update code.

Downloading and Dissemination

Downloading Lion: Business or education customers that buy the requisite licenses will receive a single redemption code for use on the Mac App Store. Once redeemed, this code will download the Lion installer; from there, you can copy the installer to a disk, flash drive, networked drive—you name it—to transfer it over to another system.

Installing Lion: You can go about actually installing Lion a couple of different ways: by dragging the installer to the computer in question and having it install in place, or—if you’re running Lion Server—by using NetInstall to make the Lion installer a startup disk on your company’s local network. (If your business has a copy of Apple Remote Desktop, you can use that to automate system installation, as well.)

But what about updates? You can download updates for both Lion and Lion Server through Software Update on each respective computer; no Mac App Store patch-downloading necessary.

Questions and answers

In its announcement that the Mac App Store would be the exclusive way to upgrade to Lion, Apple raised several concerns among consumers and IT professionals alike; if this document is any indication, however, it looks like the company is beginning to address these issues. That being said, Apple has yet to discuss upgrade paths for other types of customers—namely, people with limited bandwidth or a data-capped Internet connection, who might run into problems downloading large files from the Mac App Store. Also left out in the cold: Mac users who haven't upgraded to Snow Leopard, as you need to be running Mac OS X 10.6.6 or later to use the Mac App Store. We hope to get more details on those issues from Apple in advance of Lion's July arrival.

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