Rumour: OS X Lion nearing Golden Master stage

Apple is reportedly getting ready to issue developers with a near-complete version of Mac OS X 10.7 ''Lion'', less than three months out from the start of a tentative release window for the OS.

TechCrunch, without naming its source, reported today that Apple may soon deploy a first Golden Master build of Lion. Software labeled Golden Master is generally ready for release, though TechCrunch stressed that any release to developers would only be one of several Golden Master candidates, and not the version that will ship.

By comparison, OS X 10.5 ''Leopard'' hit the Golden Master stage in mid-October 2007, barely a fortnight ahead of an October 26 retail release. OS X 10.6 ''Snow Leopard''followed a nearly identical schedule, with a GM release to developers on August 12, 2009 ahead of an August 28 retail release.

Apple has not set a release date for Lion beyond a ''summer 2011'' window. TechCrunch and other tech blogs have speculated that the updated OS could be ready in time for Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference, reportedly being held in early June.

In February, Apple released a developer preview of OS X Lion which while rough around the edges, gave the wider user community a first look at some of the features to be included in the OS. With Lion, Apple will aim to bring an iOS-like experience to the desktop, including expanded multi-touch support, home screens with app groups and full-screen apps.

Apple's Mac App Store will also be integrated into Lion and is widely expected to be used as a distribution method for the final release of the new OS.

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