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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  • 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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