We had a few readers email in yesterday after it was announced that OS X Mavericks would be free, a first for a major desktop operating system release. It seems a few of you are curious about how Apple got here, and what the history is as it relates to the pricing of OS X. So, here's a quick history lesson.
- 10.0 Cheetah: Released March 24, 2001 for $129
- 10.1 Puma: Released September 25, 2001 for $0
- 10.2 Jaguar: Released August 23, 2002 for $129
- 10.3 Panther: Released October 24, 2003 for $129
- 10.4 Tiger: Released April 29, 2005 for $129
- 10.5 Leopard: Released October 26, 2007 for $129
- 10.6 Snow Leopard: Released August 28, 2009 for $29
- 10.7 Lion: Released July 20, 2011 for $29
- 10.8 Mountain Lion: Released July 25, 2012 for $19
- 10.9 Mavericks: Released October 22, 2013 for $0
So, as you can see, both OS X 10.1 Puma and 10.9 Mavericks were released as free updates, however, Puma was released just six months after 10.0 Cheetah, so that would have been ridiculous if Apple has chosen to charge for it. Other than that anomaly, OS X updates remained at $129 each until Snow Leopard in 2009, which sold for $29. The last $129 version of OS X was Leopard, which saw massive delays due to Apple pulling engineers from it to work on iPhone OS 1.0 (now known as iOS.) Lion was also sold for $29, and was the first version of OS X to be available as a digital download from the Mac App Store. The following year, Mountain Lion debuted at just $19--the best bargain in OS X release history until yesterday, when Mavericks launched for free. The trend has always been that OS X updates would cost the same as the previous year, or less--never more (discounting the Puma issue, which was a huge bugfix patch.) As this point, it appears that OS X has gone the way of iOS, where all updates from here on out will be available for free, on an annual basis.
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