Apple may be close enough to completing Mac OS X Lion that it's seeding the first release candidates, tipsters said late Friday. GM1, or Gold Master rrelease candidate 1, is reportedly being deployed soon. TechCrunch's source didn't give a timetable, but there are usually only a few release candidates for most software developers before the final build is made public.
Although the rumor is unconfirmed, Apple had officially promised Lion for the summer and would likely need to be wrapping up its development, focusing on eliminating bugs or speeding up code instead of new features. Only one.release candidate existed for Snow Leopard, although it was a relatively minor upgrade on the surface and might not have needed as much as Lion.
Most expect Lion to be formally released near WWDC in June and may have new Macs to help show off the enhancements, such as an upgraded MacBook Air with Sandy Bridge processors.
The new OS is considered vital for Apple, both to bring some of the iOS experience to the Mac and spur sales as well as to leapfrog Microsoft. Windows 7 largely eliminated many of the complaints about Vista while simultaneously adding new interface elements that improved its experience both with and without touch. Microsoft sold 240 million copies in one year, setting a record for a desktop OS and mending the poor performance of Vista.
An answer to Lion won't come until about late 2012, with Windows 8.