updated 10:25 pm EDT, Wed April 18, 2012
Free upgrade still only available for Intel Macs
Users of Intel Macs that have not, for one reason or another, yet upgraded to either Snow Leopard or Lion may be rewarded for their lethargy: an e-mail sent out to qualifying MobileMe customers offers them a free copy of Snow Leopard so that they can then upgrade to Lion and maintain their MobileMe account and address through iCloud. Respondent simply click on a special link to log into their MobileMe accounts and are directed to a registration form.
Apple will send those customers a Snow Leopard DVD free of charge, reports Macgasm, and is aimed both at pushing reluctant Leopard (OS X 10.5) users to get up-to-date and encouraging MobileMe members to upgrade to iCloud before the former service gets closed down on June 30th. Customers who don't or can't upgrade to either iOS 5 on a mobile device or OS X 10.7 on a desktop or notebook risk losing their MobileMe account, which has been free since Apple announced iCloud back in June of last year but previously cost $100 or more per year.
The e-mail appears to be targeted only at users running Leopard, and encourages upgraders to also sign up for iCloud. The free iCloud service preserves MobileMe members' mac.com and me.com e-mail addresses, and offers improved syncing abilities, iTunes Store cloud backups of purchases, cloud-based iOS backups, Photo Stream, a limited form of document storage and syncing, and most recently added hosted "Photo Journals" via iPhoto for iOS.
The iCloud service is free, as opposed to the $100 yearly charge millions of users paid for MobileMe, but does eliminate some services MM customers enjoyed, including iDisk storage and iPhoto galleries, along with certain kinds of sync items. Purchases from Apple, contacts, calendars, e-mail are automatically synced in iCloud.
Interestingly, the e-mail makes no mention of the $69 USB drive version of Lion that is available from Apple and authorized dealers, which can "jump" users directly from earlier versions of the OS into Lion on compatible hardware. The message explains that Leopard users must first update to Snow Leopard, which gives them access to the Mac App Store from where they can buy Lion for $30. They then can click a link in the e-mail to upgrade their MobileMe account to iCloud.
The offer for free disc of Snow Leopard will expire on June 15th, just two weeks before the MobileMe service ends. Data that is stored on the iDisk or web galleries must be retrieved from there before the deadline. [via Macgasm]