Apple may release the 10.1 upgrade to Mac OS X owners free of charge.

The company, which plans to distribute the software this month, is expected to offer it as a free upgrade to existing Mac OS X owners, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

Apple has confirmed that "an upgrade CD will be available to current Mac OS X users through the Mac OS Up-to-Date program".

Customers will be able to get the upgrade in selected stores. Alternatively, a CD can be posted for a handling fee of $19.95, according to the report. The standalone version of Mac OS X 10.1 will be priced at $129. No UK price is available yet.

There are speed enhancements in version 10.1, such as faster reacting menus and applications. Finder windows are also more responsive when resized, according to Apple.

Mac OS X version 10.1 will create data CDs using CD burning capabilities built into the Finder. iDVD 2 is available for Mac OS X version 10.1.