Apple will provide a free upgrade to Mac OS X 10.7 to all customers who purchase a new Mac notebook or desktop before Lion ships next month.

The Mac OS Lion Up-to-Date program will allow people who buy a new machine between June 6 and Lion's release date to download the operating system free-of-charge, Apple said in a statement this week.

Like others who take Apple up on the Lion upgrade, the free copy will be available only through the Mac App Store, the online e-market Apple launched last January.

On Monday, Apple announced that Lion would ship next month and cost £20.99.

Users must request the free upgrade within 30 days of purchasing a new Mac; the deal closes 30 days after Lion is released.

Apple has not yet posted details on the Up-to-Date program, but its Web site currently tells customers to check this page in July .

Like operating system rival Microsoft, Apple typically offers free upgrades to users who purchase a personal computer in the weeks or months before a new OS ships.

In 2009, Apple made a similar offer to Mac buyers -- also labeled "Up-to-Date" -- but charged users a shipping and handling fee for a free copy of Snow Leopard.

This year's free offer sidesteps Snow Leopard's fee because the Lion upgrade can be downloaded directly from the Mac App Store. Lion will weigh in at approximately 4GB.

Apple has not yet disclosed when in July it will release Lion.