People privy of Apple’s plans with the next range of Macintosh computers say the devices are ready for shipping, but that Lion is holding them back. Apple wants to pre-install them with a Gold Master version of the new OS which apparently isn’t ready for general consumption. Apple promised during the WWDC 2011 keynote that Lion would ship in July. In the meanwhile, the Cupertino giant ordered new hardware configurations that bring the MacBook Air, and Mac mini up to feature parity with the rest of the pack. In particular, these enhancements are Sandy Bridge processors and Thunderbolt I/O. At least for the MacBook Air, these upgrades seem to have been confirmed. People familiar with the matter are telling AppleInsider that Apple management is currently unwilling to release the new computer models into the market with the current operating system - Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. Apple is waiting until it can “image” MacBook Airs with a Gold Master build of Lion. The reason for this is obvious - Apple wants customers to get everything out of the box, instead of having to download and install Lion from the Mac App Store themselves, had the new Macs launched this week, for instance. Lion will come with iCloud, the all-new suite of Internet services from Apple. A Cnet report seems to corroborate Apple’s plans to hold off the launch of new Macs because Lion hasn’t reached Gold Master status. “‘Our checks suggest a forthcoming MacBook Air refresh in July where we believe units could ramp to as high as 1.5M units per [quarter] or 50 percent of the MacBook business,’ analyst Chris Whitmore wrote in a research note distributed via e-mail, according to the web site. Whitmore added that his firm “believe[s] Lion will drive a strong upgrade cycle due to: 1) low ASP; 2) significant enhancements/feature upgrades; and 3) arrives in conjunction with MacBook Air refresh.”