Gadget maker Apple has released a developer preview of Mac OS X Lion, the eighth major release of Mac OS X -- Apple's desktop and server operating system for Macintosh computers.

The Lion preview is available to Mac Developer Program members through the Mac App Store today, while the final version of Lion will ship to customers this summer, Apple said in a statement.

Apple said Lion features Mission Control, Launchpad, full screen apps and new Multi-Touch gestures. Lion also includes the Mac App Store to discover, install and automatically update Mac apps.

 The iPad has inspired a new generation of innovative features in Lion, said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. Developers are going to love Mission Control and Launchpad, and can now start adding great new Lion features like full screen, gestures, Versions and Auto Save to their own apps.

Mission Control gives user a bird's eye view of every app and window running on the Mac. With a simple swipe, a desktop zooms out to display your open windows grouped by app, thumbnails of full screen apps as well as your Dashboard, and allows user to instantly navigate anywhere with a click.

Meanwhile, Launchpad makes it easier than ever to find and launch any app. With a single click, Launchpad displays all of the Mac apps in a full screen layout. A user can also arrange apps into multiple pages and swipe between them.

In addition, Apple said the new gestures feature include pinching one's fingers to zoom in on a web page or image, swiping left or right to turn a page or switch between full screen apps and swiping up to enter Mission Control.

Additional features in Lion include:

*A new version of Mail, with an elegant, widescreen layout inspired by the iPad; Conversations, which automatically groups related messages into one easy to read timeline; more powerful search; and support for Microsoft Exchange 2010.

* AirDrop, a remarkably simple way to copy files wirelessly from one Mac to another with no setup.

* Versions, which automatically saves successive versions of your document as you create it, and gives you an easy way to browse, edit and even revert to previous versions.

* Resume, which conveniently brings your apps back exactly how you left them when you restart your Mac or quit and relaunch an app.

* Auto Save, which automatically saves your documents as you work.

* The all new FileVault, that provides high performance full disk encryption for local and external drives, and the ability to wipe data from your Mac instantaneously

* Mac OS X Lion Server, which makes setting up a server easier than ever and adds support for managing Mac OS X Lion, iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices.

Separately, Apple updated its MacBook Pro computers, featuring latest Intel chips, high-speed Thunderbolt I/O technology and a new FaceTime HD camera.