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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  • parlour - Monday, July 25, 2011 - link

    The revenue includes all the money that is payed to developers, music labels and media companies. Apple keeps no more than 30% (probably quite a bit less) of it. Reply
  • bwmccann - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    Just started playing it a month ago and my entire family is hooked! Reply
  • ltcommanderdata - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    I don't suppose you could compare OpenCL performance between Snow Leopard, Lion, and Windows 7? Given the increasing emphasis Apple is putting in OpenCL and the requirement for it in Final Cut Pro X and no doubt future iLife and pro apps, it'll be good to see how their latest implementation stacks up in performance rather than just feature-set (Lion bumps things to OpenCL 1.1 from 1.0 in Snow Leopard.) Reply
  • jensend - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    The claim that GPL3 "prohibits inclusion in retail products" is an outright lie. It's not just an inaccuracy- there's no way anybody who was even slightly informed about these things would think that; the ability to sell the software is one of the basic freedoms the GPL has always been about protecting.

    It is true that Apple refuses to use GPL3 software. The only reason I can think of for this is that the GPL3 says that if you distribute software under the GPL3 you implicitly grant patent licenses to everybody for any patents you may have which cover the software. Apple's wish to use its portfolio of obvious and non-innovative patents as a weapon to destroy its competitors conflicts with this.
    Reply
  • Confusador - Thursday, July 21, 2011 - link

    Came here to say this and you've got it covered. This is an unusual case of blatantly false information on AT, you guys are usually much better informed than this. Reply
  • batmang - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    I'm a little surprised that Anand didn't include any gaming benchmarks in this OS review just for simple comparison. Overall though, fantastic review and I'll certainly be upgrading to Lion in a week or so. I'm waiting to see if any oddball bugs arise before taking the plunge. Thanks for the review Anand. Reply
  • Kristian Vättö - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    I think he was going to but didn't have time (we wanted to get this out right when Lion went live). I don't know about his plans but maybe he will update this with GPU performance or do a separate article about that. Reply
  • Gigantopithecus - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    "Business customers can get Lion for $29.99 per copy in units of 20 or more, and educational institutions can buy it along with the latest iLife and iWork upgrades for $39 in quantities of 25 or higher. Especially when compared to Microsoft's complicated and expensive Windows licensing, these simple, low and clearly defined upgrade prices are extremely welcome."

    I can't speak for business customers, but pricing for higher ed institutions is extremely variable for MS software.

    To wit, at the University of Wisconsin, our tech store offers zero discounts compared to retail on all Apple software, whereas both W7 Pro & Enterprise are $10 for one license and $25 for a fiver. At the University of Michigan, Apple OS software is similarly sold at retail with no discount, while W7 Pro is $19. Michigan State offers no discounts on both OS X and W7 vs retail. Indiana University sells OS X for retail & W7 for $20.

    I'm not familiar with direct-from-Apple educational pricing, but if you go to actual universities' actual computer stores, MS software is sold at enormous discounts at 3 of the 4 Big Ten campuses I'm familiar with. Saying Apple offers lower OS pricing than MS to higher ed customers is flat out inaccurate.
    Reply
  • mrd0 - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    Same at Washburn University's School of Law...I purchased the full enterprise Office 7 and then 10 for $9.95, and Windows 7 for $29.95. Apple software is not discounted. Reply
  • SmCaudata - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - link

    Minnesota is Free to download or the cost of printed media ($8). This was when I was there at least.

    At Colorado both Windows and Office are also free to download. Before that (last year) they participated in the $29 usage option for office.

    The fact is Windows/Office is really only expensive if you are building your own computers and installing your own OS. Even then you can get it rather cheap and the money you save more than makes up for the extra $50 Windows 7 runs over this. Also this only updates on SnowLeopard. If you didn't have that upgrade it will cost you more. Win7 upgrades back to XP, correct?
    Reply

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