Mac OS X 10.7 Lion could be released via the Mac App Store, according to reports.

Apple Insider cites people familiar with the matter as saying that the Mac App Store will be the de facto method for Snow Leopard users to get the Lion upgrade.

The Mac App Store was first mooted by Apple as a key new feature of Lion, though was actually included in the release of OS X 10.6.6. Now it seems that Apple actually wants the Mac App Store to be the primary way of getting hold of Lion.

Apple Insider reports that developers have spotted evidence that Lion will be available through the Mac App Store, with closed beta versions of Lion used by developers downloaded through the store using a special code provided by Apple.

Of course, this may not be practical for everyone - those with Macs not connected to the web or with slow connections will be offered the alternative of an optical disc for installing Lion, according to the report.

Apple's Lion: A marriage of iOS and OS X

However, for owners of the MacBook Air, which doesn't have an optical drive, the Mac App Store will likely be a much more convenient way of installing OS X 10.7.

Details are likely to become clearer next month when the Worldwide Developer Conference takes place in San Francisco. Lion will launch at some stage in the summer and it's possible a more precise date will be revealed at WWDC.

According to the report, Lion has a minimum requirement of a Core 2 Duo processor, meaning that the earliest Intel-based Macs will not be able to run OS X 10.7.