Originally Posted by kaiwai
Dear god I hope not - I certainly don't want to see operating system upgrades via software update; I want to be able to do a clean install.
Cheap computers form HP, Sony and Dell like to do, but having a secret partition with Mac OS X install files waiting for an update would allow you to do a clean install. I highly doubt that Apple would ever wait your HDD like that.
However, would be more useful is to have the installer create a partition dynamically, put the install files on that partition temporarily, restart and install (which is mainly just a copying to the other local partition) and then removing the partition when it's complete. This is how I install Snow Leopard and it takes less than minutes from start to finish and I don't have to waste my time and money on DL-DVDs.
But that won't happen either. For starters, there are files that prevent Disk Utility from making partitions. Most notably are Parallels and VMWare, which lock heads or cylinders so files can't be moved if they are in the wrong place. Unless Apple has a surefire way to prevent that anomaly that would never use that method.
But NAND would be possible, albeit still prohibitively expensive for the needed 8GB stick, though the MBA would be a prime candidate for this. Since the MBA is an expensive, optical drive-free machine that could easily eat the cost of the drive I don't see Apple going this route either.
But I also haven't seen any evidence of Apple moving to Blu-ray drives. The 9.5mm tray-loading BRDs are $600 as an add on from other vendors and Apple hasn't even included HDC support for their current or future OS, so that is looking pretty slim at this point. Will this be a big reveal come next month's WWDC?
Apple is a tough spot, DVD has no many limitations all around, BRD are expensive and with their own set of lackluster limitations with speed, capacity and energy efficiency. Yet the best alternative to installing your OS is still too expensive.
Apple has been holding their position for a long time and according to my findings the only BRDs that are thin enough for their notebooks only came out earlier this year, after their last revisions... and those are still the tray loading drives. Historically, drives have lost speed and increased in price with a slot-loading alternative. But why not the Mac Pro with it's full size drive or at least HDCP support so external BRDs can be used for those few? The licensing has changed so that part of "a bag of hurt" is now diminished. I think Apple's pushing the blame solely on the licensing is only the partial truth.