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Apple software now download-only as Lion, iLife and iWork ban the box

The disc in a box is dead! So says Apple, which now sells its major software packages through the Mac App Store, and no longer on a CD in a box.

The disc in a box is dead. So says Apple, which no longer offers its major software packages on a cardboard-encased CD. Mac OS X Lion, launched yesterday, is the first operating system available only as a download, and Apple's other software packages -- iLife, iWork and Aperture -- are now also only available in digital form.

Along with the current operating system, OS X Snow Leopard, they can be downloaded from the Mac App Store, but won't be sold in old-fashioned boxes on so-last-century shop shelves.

Music recording software Logic Express and Logic Studio will still be sold in dead-tree containers, but consumer music add-on GarageBand Jam is disappearing entirely from both shop shelves and the Mac App Store. The all-in-one Mac Box Set is also dead, so you'll have to buy Mac OS X, iLife and iWork separately from hereon out.

Lion arrived yesterday with the new MacBook Air and Mac mini. The Air is the first computer you can buy with Lion installed, and future MacBooks and iMacs will also come with Lion inside.

The lack of a physical disc has raised the question of how you reinstall Lion should there be a problem. Lion magically reinstalls itself via a recovery partition, but we reckon a problem with Lion is more likely to mean a rendezvous with an Apple Genius.

A caveat to all this is that some Apple software will be available to buy on a USB stick -- but at a price.

If you own a Mac but don't have access to the Internet, you can either take your Mac into an Apple Store or wait until August, when Lion is released on a USB stick. Which costs £55. That's £21 for the software and £34 for the stick, but then, we're baffled as to why anyone would have a grand's worth of Mac hardware and no Internet connection. We'd ask those people to tell us in the comments, but they can't read this. The big bumfaces.

To find out what's new in Lion, click here for a full review of Mac OS X 10.7 Lion.

Is downloading the way of the future, or do you still love a disc in a box? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below or on our Facebook page.