Apple have launched its "Lion" operating system. It certainly "sounds" grand, but does is it all roar and no bite? Read on to find out.
Today I went to try out the new Apple Mac OS X Lion operating system at the Truro Stormfront Apple store. It is certainly an improvement over the Snow Leopard. Right off the bat, the biggest difference is that it sports an option to have mutliple desktop, just like the Android mobile operating system. Also, the buttons and scroll bars on the Lion is smaller. In fact the scroll bar disappear unless you start scrolling (you would have to use two fingers on the "magic mouse" to scroll. This can be kind of awkard.) This is a bugger if you are not use to the two finger scroll as you can't reach over to the side to make the scroll bar appear. Another difference that is widely touted feature is the ability to freely resize the desktop instead of constraining to the fixed ratios. Honestly, I don't see that much of a difference. Another visual difference is that it sports a seperate "widget" desktop, which can be acessed by swipping the desktop to the right. It also have a new "mission control" (shown to the right) to view all the running apps.
It also have a new way to run apps. It has an ipad like application that called launch pad (shown to the right) with a bunch of shortcuts to launch the various apps on your Mac.
Another added bonus is the clock on the screensaver (have to turn on via settings). In addition to these feature, several visual features of the Mac is a blant copy of Windows 7. For example, like Windows 7, Mac Lion now sport a dynamic desktop where the desktop image change after every specified time.
Visual aspect aside, the Lion have several features below the hood. It have a bunch of touch shortcuts to access several features. For example, to access the mission control, you would have to swipe upward with three fingers. However, these touch controls are hard they use. First of all, its very awkard to use a computer with 3 fingers. For example, to show the desktop, you would have to spread your thumb away from the three fingers. In addition to the awkardness, the touch shortcut may or may not work. I tried the recommended shortcut to view the desktop but it instead showed the mission control.
Despite the added feature, the Lion has several drawbacks, mostly related to its download and installation. You can read more about it in my previous blog post. Apple has decided to distribute Lion purely via digital means, meaning you would have to download it from the web. Lion does not have a CD installation disk or any physical installation media. However, the decision by Apple to go entirely digital can cause numerious problems to users. Mac OS X Lion is 4 GB large. Imagine downloading that over a slow internet connection. This would would take hours or even days to download over an extremely slow connection (dialup users may take months) . Another problem is recovery option in case of PC failure. On most OS's if an OS fails, the user can reinstall the OS via the CD or use the CD onboard repair tool to boot. But unless you have the disk or bothered to burn the recovery tool, you would be stuck with a dead operating system. Also, should the OS installation crash, you would end up with a dead operating system. Of course, you can reinstall the old operating system and try the upgrade path again... A third problem is the tricky upgrade path. In a strange decision by Apple, the new OS will be delivered over the web via the Mac App Store. In addition, the Mac App Store is only availble on the Snow Leopard so those wanting to upgrading to Lion must grab the Snow Leopard first, which require users to grab the Leopard first. Users wanting to skip Leopard would have to purchase the the $170 Mac Box Set, which contains both Leopard and Snow Leopard.
Windows users will find the Mac very user unfriendly. First off, it does not have an aero snap. Also it does not have the task manager or a sidebar (although it has widgets that sit on a seperate Window). Another difference is that the Mac does not have a lock feature where you could quickly lock the desktop (in Windows this is ctrl+L). However, it does have a new feature called hot corner where you just have to move the mouse to a designated corner perform a designated command such as log out, go to sleep, switch on screensaver, etc. In summary, the Mac OS X Lion is certainly a new and sparkly operating system but I belive it won't draw too many Windows users over to their camp. Each operating system have its own faults and flaws. It is best to stick to the operating system that you know as switching operating system can be a painful and long task.Hat tip to "The Oatmeal" for his funny comic State of the Web Summer 2011