A row of students use Apple laptops during a Communications class. Orders for the computers have been up lately at the Bookstore.

The number of thin, white laptops around campus is about to jump - again.

With today's release of Apple's newest operating system, called Mac OS X Leopard, officials expect campus orders of Apple products to increase.

But overall, a potential rise is par for the course.

The Penn Bookstore's Computer Connection back-to-school orders showed significant increases in Apple sales this semester.

While computer orders for other vendors stayed even, Apple orders nearly doubled, said Business Services spokeswoman Barbara Lea-Kruger.

A major part of that is due to marketing strategy: Every year, Apple offers students credit toward an iPod with the purchase of an Apple laptop.

"A big part of my decision to buy a Mac was the student discount that was being offered at the time. I got a free iPod, which was nice," College junior Emma Thadani said.

"I was also really attracted to the fun features the Mac had," she said.

More than 83 percent of Mac-owning students purchased their Mac under such a student plan.

On top of Apple's smart marketing, Computer Connection's prices are much more competitive this year, with prices of Macs dropping considerably to compete against PC prices.

During its Back-to-School sale, Computer Connection offered the $199 rebate through Apple toward an Apple iPod with the purchase of a Mac computer.

Apple's user interface and sleek design are big sellers for Penn students.

One reason students didn't previously purchase Macs was because of compatibility issues, but that issue has since been addressed: "Most of the standard applications in common use on campus are supported on both Mac OS and Windows," said Mark Aseltine of Penn's Information Systems and Computing.

"The choice comes down to a personal preference for one platform or the other based on past experience or other factors," Aseltine said.

Another plus to using a Mac is its reliability.

Arnav Mukherjee, Engineering senior and ITA manager of Harnwell college house, handles few Mac-related problems in his line of work. "I've never seen a Mac with a virus," Mukherjee said.

College sophomore Lauren Burdette said, "I love my Mac. I can get all the performance benefits of music and photos while still being able to use great programs like Microsoft Office - the best of both worlds."

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