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Apple quietly pulls Lion amid Mountain Lion launch

If you were in the market for Apple's last OS X release, you're out of luck. Apple has erased all signs of it from its two online stores.

Where for art thou Lion?
Where for art thou Lion?

Apple today replaced last year's version of OS X with a shiny, new model. But in the process, it also quietly scrubbed that older version from its digital and physical stores.

Several readers have reached out to let us know that Lion, which was replaced with Mountain Lion today, can no longer be found on the Mac App Store. The same goes for the USB thumb drive Apple sold with a Lion installer for those who could not purchase it online. Links to Lion in the Mac App Store now show a warning message that the product is not available.

Apple confirmed the removal of the software this afternoon, and said that customers can still purchase a copy from its online store's telesales agents.

It's worth pointing out that this has long been Apple's standard operating procedure, going back to the days when OS updates came in disc form. The company typically pulls old versions of its software off shelves in favor of the latest and the greatest. And perhaps more important, the company is unlikely to want people mistakenly purchasing last year's software.

With that said, the move creates an unusual situation for the crop of Mac owners who bought certain machines between 2006 and 2008. These users might have Macs are compatible with Lion, but that won't run Mountain Lion (see the full list here). Those users have had a full year to upgrade their machines, but now have to jump through an extra hoop if they want it.

For those who may have purchased it and want to re-download the software, Macworld points out that you can un-hide it on your purchases list by holding the "Option" key.

Updated at 3:44 p.m. PT with information about alternate purchase methods and re-download instructions.

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