Speculation over the new Macbook Air and Mac OS X Lion software hit new heights this week as news outlets pegged releases for Thursday. But an Apple employee pointed IBTimes to a different date, while also shedding light on what would make it inside.

The Macbook Air, Apple's ultra-thin notebook computer, will employ Intel's latest Sandy Bridge processor and accompanying technology, said the Apple source, who wished to remain anonymous.

While widely expected by industry analysts, the confirmation puts to rest speculation that Apple was going to run with other vendors, including reports that surfaced in May suggesting a move to UK's ARM technology.

The low-voltage chip follows the trajectory laid out by the current Macbook Air, and the chip's added ability to process graphics cuts the need for other chips, enhancing battery life.

Also in line with expectations, Apple will package the new notebook computer with Mac OS X Lion, the company's next-generation operating system introduced earlier this year.

The move was widely expected as both products are set to be released at roughly the same time.

It doesn't make sense to release hardware without the software, the source said.

The information corroborates supply-chain checks from Wall Street analysts and Apple's own corporate moves earlier this year.

Apple released the gold master of its operating system, Mac OS X Lion, earlier this month while also ramping up production of the new Macbook Air.

A gold master is computer parlance that indicates that no more changes will be made to the software, and that finished copy will enter of phases of production -- like licensing, documentation, and other post-coding processes.

At the same time, Apple's MacBook Air, the ultramobile portable, is due for a refresh that industry analysts have already pegged for July.

Indeed, checks with retailers show that inventories of current Macbooks are already slimming, and new systems should ship with the new software. Companies like Best Buy, for instance, have stopped shipping the current MacBook Air altogether.

Historically the company has moved form a gold master to a bona fide release within two weeks.

While many enthusiast Web sites had predicted a release this week, it is most likely to come late next week, the source asserted.

The software is not just a welcome development for users. Analysts are expecting the new software to boost Apple's margins as well.

BMO Capital's Keith Bachman projects Apple's gross profit margin will grow by 1 percentage point, leading to an incremental 40 cents per share in profit in the September-ending fiscal fourth quarter.

While the Mac Book Air prices has yet to be determined,  Apple has said Mac OS X Lion upgrades will be $29.99.

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