The move comes two months ahead of schedule, amid what Jobs said is great enthusiasm for the new OS. For now, machines will also come with Mac OS 9, which will remain the default OS that appears when a new computer is turned on for the first time.
"It is going to be so easy to change the default to X, that we think a lot of customers are going" to make the switch, Jobs said during his "fireside chat"--complete with giant video fireplace--at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference.
All Macs leaving Apple's factories as of Monday have the new OS installed, while those Macs already in the distribution channel will come with a free copy of OS X.
Jobs also confirmed that, as previously reported, Apple is phasing out its use of traditional cathode-ray tube monitors. To facilitate that transition, Apple cut the price of its two flat panels and introduced a new 17-inch flat-panel display for $999.
The price of the 15-inch Studio Display was cut by $200 to $599. And the price of the 21-inch Cinema Display was chopped by $500 to $2,499.
Guernsey Research analyst Chris LeTocq said the price cut on the 15-inch monitor helps the combination of a low-end PowerMac G4 Cube and flat-panel monitor dip below $2,000.
"That's the place the Cube needed to be," LeTocq said. "Whether that is good enough to get it moving after the bad rap it's been getting is another question."
The Mac maker used its conference to release other news, as well:
As predicted, Apple announced a new version of OS X Server. Its price ranges from $499 to $999, depending on how many computers will use it. The company will sell its Macintosh Server G4 computer with the new OS X Server for $2,999.
Apple introduced WebObjects 5, the latest version of its Web-publishing software.
Apple's two new stores did a combined $599,000 in sales during their opening weekend, Jobs said. Together, the two stores sold 238 Macs and 935 units of software.
Jobs used much of his speech to urge developers to bring their applications to Mac OS X.
Mac owners' "impatience is bad. It's going to get worse," said Jobs, who broke his usual pattern of sporting a black turtleneck and instead wore a white mock-turtleneck, black vest and jeans. Mac owners want Mac OS X programs, he added. "And they want them now."
Jobs cited a Macworld survey that found 68 percent of those with Macs plan to upgrade to Mac OS X this year. Of those, 82 percent plan to upgrade to OS X native applications as soon as they are available. And, depending on the program, between 57 percent and 82 percent said they would switch from one company's software to another's competing program--if one had an OS X version of a program before the other did.
Jobs also announced that OS X native versions of Macromedia's FreeHand and Apple's own FileMaker are now shipping.
Despite Jobs' contentions, LeTocq said most people who use Macs at work are unlikely to switch brands just because a rival program runs natively under OS X.
"I'd be careful about these types of surveys," LeTocq said, asserting that few people will switch from Adobe Systems' Photoshop just because there is no Mac OS X version yet.
"The chances of (people) moving are minuscule at best," he said.