Apple has begun offering MobileMe users who are still running Mac OS 10.5 Leopard a free upgrade to 10.6 Snow Leopard, as an incentive to switch to iCloud. Since iCloud requires users to be running OS 10.7 Lion, users still running Leopard and Snow Leopard can't get it on their Macs. MobileMe, however, is effectively dead, replaced by iCloud last summer. Apple wants to give remaining MobileMe customers an incentive to upgrade.
When Snow Leopard was released in 2010, it cost around $100 for Leopard users to purchase the upgrade. That being the case, many chose to remain with Leopard rather than fork over the money to upgrade. When Lion released the following year, it only cost $29.99 to upgrade. Unfortunately, there was a catch: all those people who had stuck with Leopard would have to pony up for Snow Leopard before they could get Lion. The end result is that now, almost a year after Lion released, there are still a sizable number of Mac users still rocking an OS that's two generations old.
That wouldn't really be too much of a problem for Apple - after all, what do they care if you're still using Leopard (or Tiger, for that matter). The problem is iCloud. Also announced last year, iCloud is the (much-improved) free replacement for Apple's old (paid) MobileMe service. Unfortunately, using iCloud on a Mac requires Lion. For those who skipped the Snow Leopard Upgrade because it cost $100, and then skipped the Lion upgrade because it would've cost $130, there's no real incentive to switch from MobileMe to iCloud. After all, Apple stopped charging existing MobileMe customers when iCloud went live.
By making the upgrade to Snow Leopard free, Apple has made the first (and most expensive) part of the process of switching to iCloud free. Once MobileMe users have their Snow Leopard disk in hand, all they have to do is install it and pay a much more reasonable $30 for the ugprade to Lion, then switch to iCloud.
To get the free upgrade to Snow Leopard, you have to visit the MobileMe site, sign in, and request their Snow Leopard install DVD. The free upgrade is only available to MobileMe subscribers who haven't already made the switch to iCloud. Macgasm got ahold of a screenshot of the upgrade page:
The deal apparently expires on the 15th of June. Fifteen days later, on the 30th, MobileMe will be shutting down for good. So if you're a MobileMe subscriber who's still rocking OS X Leopard, it might be time to pony up for the upgrade. For just $30 you get to take advantage of iCloud, and you get to be up-to-date with Apple's newest operating system. Well, until Mountain Lion comes out later this summer, anyway.
Will you be taking advantage of the free Snow Leopard upgrade? Will you be getting Mountain Lion when it comes out this year? Let us know int he comments.