Apple has historically used Samba, an open-source implementation of the SMB file sharing protocol, to share files with Windows machines. First included in OS X 10.2, Samba also enabled Macs to both join and host Windows-compatible directory servers, increasing the then-fledgling OS’s viability in a business setting. However, the Samba team recently began licensing the software under the GPL3 license, which prohibits its inclusion in retail products, and rather than lose these key interoperability features, Apple chose to develop its own in-house implementation for Lion. What does that mean for you, the user?

Well, for starters, Lion’s new SMB implementation is SMB 2.0 only - this is a Microsoft-developed improvement of the specification that was introduced in Windows Vista and continued in Windows 7. This has one major ramifications for Lion users, and I suspect it will only impact a fraction of a fraction of them: Lion computers can no longer be joined to NT Domain Controller directories. These directories are quite old at this point - their successor, Active Directory, came with Windows Server 2000 in 1999, and has become much more robust with each Windows Server release since - but if, for some reason, you or your business uses new or newish Macs on an ancient domain, Lion’s going to break things for you (Lion does, however, remain compatible with Active Directory).

You never want to see an OS lose features, but I can’t say I blame Apple much for making this call, and it’s not a secret that Apple has historically been much less interested in backward compatibility than Microsoft. For people who absolutely need for OS X to have this functionality, Samba is definitely still around, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see someone begin maintaining an OS X-friendly fork of the software. Just know Lion won’t do it out of the box anymore.

SMB’s main use in OS X is for file sharing with Windows users, though, and I can say that file sharing with users of both Windows XP and Windows 7 (and, by extension, Windows Vista, for what it’s worth) works just fine once you set it up in System Preferences. I was able to copy files to and from a basic share I made without issue.

Anecdotally, I can also say that connecting to and browsing through an SMB share with many files and folders feels faster than Snow Leopard does on the same system connected to the same share. In Snow Leopard, I’d often have to wait for folders with a lot of data in them to populate - in Lion, things are more or less instantaneous. SMB2 was optimized to improve speed over high-latency connections, and I’m sure that accounts for at least some of the increased snappiness.

Farewell, Core Duo: 64-bit in Lion Performance: Similar to Snow Leopard
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  • ebolamonkey3 - Thursday, July 21, 2011 - link

    Well, since Apple retains 30% of the App price, I'm not sure if that figure above is talking about the total amount that customers have spent buying songs and apps, or if that's Apple's revenue (ie: 30% cut) of the pie. Reply
  • PreOmegaZero - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    Microsoft names the OS versions as such (6.0 vs 6.1) because changing it to 7.0 (like they admit they should have done) broke many older apps/installers that did OS version detection.
    So the version numbering is simply from a compatibility standpoint.
    Reply
  • darwinosx - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    These aren't service packs. Its a silly comment which tells us you either don't know what a service pack (which is a Microsoft term for Microsoft software) actually contains or you didn't read this review. Reply
  • Belard - Thursday, July 21, 2011 - link

    Service packs? Apple uses actual version numbers, but in the past few years - they've only been patching Snow Leopard.

    The difference in XP SP1 / SP2 / SP3 is bug fixes, security patches and a few things here and there, but feature wise, no difference. XP-Home/Pro are visually different than XP-MCE (Which is XP Pro with a nice visual face lift but with VPN ripped out).

    I think Apple charges like $50 for a 5 user license upgrade... much better than the lame Win7 (Vista and XP) charging $100 for an upgrade disk which is messy when it comes to a clean install.
    Reply
  • anactoraaron - Sunday, July 24, 2011 - link

    "much better than the lame Win7 (Vista and XP) charging $100 for an upgrade disk which is messy when it comes to a clean install."

    You have no clue about which you speak. Win7 upgrades/clean installs are simple for even the simplest minds-present party excluded apparently.
    Reply
  • name99 - Thursday, July 21, 2011 - link

    An improvement? Uhh, you are aware that Snow Leopard ALSO sold for $29?

    The more interesting points you should be making are that:

    - $29 gets you the right to install the OS on EVERY mac you own. It's right there in the TOS. For most people this won't matter much, but for those with a desktop machine, a laptop and a HTPC, it's rather cool.

    - and you get the right to virtualize two instances, if you care

    - and note the conspicuous absence of any sort of DRM covering the OS, not to mention the home/home mini/pro/ real pro/enterprise/super singing & dancing version crap that MS offers up.

    (And, BTW, you get the Dev Tools for free. They were $5 in SL, but I think they've dropped to $0 with Lion.
    As far as I know, Dev Studio is not free, not close.)
    Reply
  • ATimson - Thursday, July 21, 2011 - link

    Assuming that by "Dev Studio" you mean "Microsoft Visual Studio", yes, they have a fully-functional free version. Reply
  • name99 - Thursday, July 21, 2011 - link

    How come when I go to

    http://www.microsoftstore.com/store/msstore/en_US/...

    I see a bunch of different prices, from $3,800 to $400, but no $0?

    I'm not being pissy, I really want to understand what is going on here.
    Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Friday, July 22, 2011 - link

    How can you buy something that's free?

    http://www.microsoft.com/visualstudio/en-us/produc...
    Reply
  • kosmatos - Monday, November 04, 2013 - link

    It's 2013 now, and you were spot on, quicksilvr. Reply

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