One of the biggest changes to OS X Mavericks from the previous version of Apple’s operating system is its price—it’s free. It costs zero, zilch, nada.
Sure, as iterative changes go, it’s not entirely unheard of for operating systems to be free. Windows 8.1 was a free upgrade for Windows 8 users for example. And Linux has always been free. But Apple has historically charged prices for its new operating systems, ranging from $129 (for the original OS X 10.0) to $29 (OS X 10.7 Lion) to $19.99 (OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion).
Given that smartphone OS upgrades (for both Android and iOS) have always been free, are we seeing the end of paid OS upgrades? It sure seems likely at least for Apple, and perhaps even Microsoft will follow too.
Mavericks pricing further confirms what we’ve seen in recent years: traditional PC sales are on the wane, and Apple is a company that makes money off hardware devices and online services rather than its operating systems. It appears that Cupertino now wants to encourage upgrades as a way to push users not only to buy new hardware, but also to spend more money on iCloud, iTunes Match, and making App Store purchases.