Apple hasn't exactly paid a ton of attention to Mac OS X since the iPhone came out. There, I said it.

This was obvious even in the lead-up to Leopard in 2007, when Apple delayed that OS's release from a spring timeframe to October so that they could get the iPhone out the door. Since then, we've gotten Snow Leopard (a "no new features" release that did a lot to optimize the platform at the expense of aging PowerPC Macs) and a long string of point updates that have done plenty to polish the OS but not much to advance it. Using OS X today is fundamentally much the same as it was four years ago, though we're doing it on hardware that's four years faster.

 

Lion, originally unveiled in October of 2010, is Apple's attempt to get "back to the Mac," which when translated from Apple into English means that the company wanted to port some ideas and some functionality from iOS into OS X, which parallels iOS's journey from a touch-driven iPod interface to an increasingly OS X-flavored standalone OS. With Lion, Apple wants to do for its Mac software what it did for its Mac hardware with the MacBook Air - bring concepts people like in tablets to full-featured computers.

One of our goals with a Lion review, then, is to separate the actual useful features from the fluff - what has OS X borrowed from iOS, and does it really improve and make sense for the platform? What functionality feels grafted-on, and what feels like it's been missing from the platform for years?

Another important goal will be to determine the direction in which Lion moves the platform, because new OS X releases tend to be messages just as much as operating systems: Leopard, with its two-and-a-half-year development cycle, told people that OS X's fast-paced, sometimes chaotic early phase was officially over. Snow Leopard told PowerPC users to get with the times or get off the train (or, to put it positively, that Intel was the future and that developers needed to take fuller advantage of the architecture's strengths).

So what is Lion trying to tell us? Read on and find out.

Installation
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  • mrcaffeinex - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    I purchased a MacBook Pro when Leopard was due to come out. Apple mailed me a free upgrade DVD about a month after I purchased the MacBook. When Snow Leopard came out I purchased the upgrade DVD for something in the neighborhood of $30 if I remember correctly. I've done clean installations from all of the media and never run into an activation/registration problem.

    On the flip side, I paid $149 for Windows XP, another $149 for XP 64-bit (if only there had been driver support back in the day...), $199 for Vista and another $149 for 7. Granted these were over a slightly longer time period. Still, I can't help but think that some of the initial investment cost of the Mac has been offset by not having to spend significantly more on software upgrades to get the features or functionality that I enjoy having at my disposal.

    Factor in the inconvenience of having several iterations of Windows that were more or less junk, but still cost the same and it slides the scale further in favor of OS X in my experience. Now I can also get what is essentially a household upgrade in Lion for approximately $30 if I decide it is worthwhile.

    Don't take this as an attack on Microsoft and their Windows operating system, though. It is still an integral part of my computing experience every day and I really enjoy Windows 7 (in fact, it runs better on my MacBook than on most notebooks I've worked on). I just wish they would adopt a strategy that would make upgrading Windows more affordable for the do-it-yourself PC enthusiast.
    Reply
  • GotThumbs - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    The amount of money Apple made on your purchase of their hardware more than covers the cost of the OS. Microsoft does not sell their own brand of computers. You can purchase a PC laptop for hundreds less than you can purhcase an Apple MAC.

    Think McFly, think!
    Reply
  • xype - Thursday, July 21, 2011 - link

    I love it how PC people have such a sweet feeling of entitlement.

    Have you ever had/bought/found a product that you were simply content with paying a premium for because it just worked well for you? Have you ever overtipped a waiter because the service was really good?

    You know, some people don’t have a problem rewarding either individuals or, yes, teh ebil corburayshns, for work/services well done.
    Reply
  • GotThumbs - Thursday, July 21, 2011 - link

    ??? "feeling of entitlement" ???

    Not sure what you mean, but I do work hard for my money and do have a choice of where I spend it and how much I'm willing to pay for a product or service. There is a HUGE difference between tipping a waiter for working hard to provide you the best experience, than a company who sells consumers the same technology I can get elsewhere for less and be just as satisfied with my purchase. I'm not a 'Scrooge', but I'm also not a fool. Meaning: A fool and his money are quickly parted.

    I build my own systems so I not just satisfied with what is put out by the large PC sellers either. Most readers here are not satisfied with being 'spoon fed' what we should be satisfied with.

    If you or anyone else wish to purchase apple products, your free to do so. Just don't expect me to give you a pat on the back for it.
    Reply
  • steven75 - Friday, July 22, 2011 - link

    You seem to have missed the entire point that Microsoft OS upgrades are *hundreds of dollars* per copy and Mac OSX upgrades are $30 for multiple copies. Reply
  • wicko - Sunday, July 24, 2011 - link

    Umm, currently it is roughly 100$ for Home Premium (I paid 125 when I preordered Win7 Pro Upgrade edition), less at some retailers.

    Not to mention, you glossed over the fact that there does exist a "mac tax", which you would have paid on every mac you own, offsetting the total cost.

    Say I spend 2400 on 3 PCs (including OS) and you spend 3000 on 3 Macs. Performance is identical. It will cost me 300 to upgrade each one to Win7. It will cost you 30$ to upgrade all of your Macs. 2700 vs 3030, Interesting. I will have to go through another version of Win7 in order to catch up with you in cost. And I'm being generous with respect to the difference in price before upgrades.

    But, you know, you can install it on as many Macs as you'd like, so go nuts. Just don't pretend you're somehow spending less than those who buy Windows licenses.
    Reply
  • anactoraaron - Sunday, July 24, 2011 - link

    Sure, but let's compare apples to apples (pun intended). If Microsoft were to charge $150 for what little differences there are from 10.6 and 10.6 + hybrid iOS called 10.7 windows discs would never sell (who the hell buys MS discs retail that reads AT anyway?? Newegg has always sold oem discs MUCH cheaper-wait apple person NM). But to sit there and tell me that there isn't any major changes from XP to 7... that's just ridiculous. Reply
  • xyn081s - Monday, August 01, 2011 - link

    I think you're the one who missed the point. Even with all these Win licenses, it'll still be cheaper than a Mac. Plus, you can get the Family pack, 3 licenses for $150... Reply
  • ex2bot - Friday, August 05, 2011 - link

    I know this comment was a few days ago, but I had a laugh at your comment, so I just had to open my digital mouth and reply:

    "2400 for 3 PCS ($800 ea.) and $3000 for your [POS] Mac".

    If you paid $40,000 for three Chevy Malibus and I paid $80,000 for my one souped-up Corvette" I would have gotten RIPPED OFF! (No, actually I would have received A LOT OF TICKETS!!)

    A better comparison is

    $800 PC vs. $1400 iMac . Not 800 vs. 3000. * Incidentally, you can sell your used Mac for a lot more than the technically equiv. PC. I've used that to upgrade my Macs several times.

    -Ex2bot
    Mac Fanbot

    * Think an $800 PC = Mac Pro? The Mac Pros have Xeon processors. You know better than I that Xeons are $400 or $500 each. The cheapest Mac Pro has *dual* E5620s @ 2.66. You can't build a octo-core Xeon machine for $800. And you've got to have a motherboard and a, what, case? Power supply? And a few other parts, right?
    Reply
  • nafhan - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    So, you bought four copies of Windows for a single computer? You may be the only person to have done this... A more typical experience over that time period is: Windows XP "free" with new PC, and $100 to upgrade to Windows 7.

    With the amount of money you spent on OS licenses, you could have purchased both a Win XP computer (OS included) and a Windows 7 box (OS included) outright.
    Reply

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