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Apple calms concerns over volume Lion upgrades

Education, corporate customers will download new OS from the Mac App Store just once

Apple has spelled out how education and corporate customers can upgrade Macs to Lion next month.

As first reported by TUAW.com on Friday, Apple has clarified deployment practices for volume licensees, such as schools, universities and businesses.

Both education and business IT professionals had questioned Apple's decision to distribute the Mac OX 10.7 upgrade solely through the Mac App Store, arguing that it would take far too long to download copies of Lion to each machine.

After Apple announced the availability and price of Lion earlier this month, one customer called the Mac App Store-only distribution system an "absolute bleedin' nightmare."

Apple will rely on the Mac App Store to deliver Lion to volume license customers, but will let them download the upgrade just once, then run the installer on each Mac.

Businesses can purchase a minimum of 20 licenses for Lion at $29.99 each -- the same price consumers will pay when Apple launches the operating system in July -- while educational institutions can buy what's called the "Mac Software Collection" for $39 per license, with a minimum order of 25 licenses.

The collection will consist of Lion, and the latest iLife and iWork suites.

Lion's educational pricing will be higher than the current price for the Snow Leopard-based collection, which is priced at $899 for 25 licenses, or approximately $36 per license.

To deploy Lion across multiple Macs, administrators will use the single redemption code Apple provides to download the operating system from the Mac App Store. The resulting installer can be copied to each Mac, then run to complete the upgrade.

Alternately, organizations can use the System Image Utility packaged with Lion Server to build NetInstall or NetRestore images for mass deployment over the network.

Apple also noted that Lion updates will continue to come via the Software Update mechanism, sidestepping the Mac App Store, which handles updates and upgrades for other software. That eliminates the need for each Mac in a network to have an associated Apple ID.

The Apple document laying out the Lion upgrade process for education and business can be found on Scribd.com .

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 [email protected] .

Read more about mac os in Computerworld's Mac OS Topic Center.

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