The Lion Report: Hits and Misses?

August 2nd, 2011

The reviews are coming thick and fast. OS X Lion (the word “Mac” is now restricted to the hardware, not the software) is a hit. Apple’s huge experiment, changing a few cherished Mac OS features to conform to iOS conventions, isn’t getting a huge number of complaints. For the most part, it’s as snappy or snappier than Snow Leopard.

So is there anything worth a complaint?

Well, you can complain to Apple because Auto-Save and Version doesn’t work in all your apps. But it’s up to each software developer to update their apps to make them Lion savvy. A number of updates are out already, but the key publishers, such as Adobe and Microsoft, will take a while to get their stuff finished. It won’t happen overnight, and it’s quite possible Apple will have to release one or two maintenance updates to 10.7 to make it all possible. The watchword is to be patient.

That doesn’t mean, for example, that Office 2011 for Mac is necessarily crippled. It’s not, really, although there are a few glitches here and there. What Microsoft ought to worry about is the fact that the refurbished email client/contact manager, Outlook, has become less and less useful in Lion. Combine Address Book, iCal, and Mail, along with support for Exchange Server 2010, and most of the people who might have required Outlook don’t need it. There are some power user features that might be required by some, and having an app compatible with the Windows version of Outlook is a good thing for the business world. I have tried Mac version of  Outlook, but still find it too buggy for regular use, at least for me.

The Adobe CS5.5 apps I normally use, such as Photoshop and InDesign, seem to work reliably enough for my needs. I just formatted two large books in InDesign, and every feature that I require worked just fine. No support for Lion’s Auto-Save, of course; I won’t be able to liberate myself from the Command-S addiction for a while longer. I suspect that it will take at least six months for most Mac users to feel confident that this important function can be handled behind the scenes, without your intervention.

But it was right for Apple to want the system to take over the manual chores that have been inflicted on personal computer users for so many years. You shouldn’t have to worry about remembering to save a document, and you shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to restore a previous version if that’s what you want.

The security experts say that Apple has some good things to improve OS X security. Sandboxing walls off apps, so one compromised app can’t infect others, but it’ll take time for apps to get with the program. Address space randomization is yet another feature that helps keep the Internet criminals at bay. It doesn’t mean that OS X is completely secure. In addition to the security lapses that continue to be patched, there is the matter of social engineering. That means your misstep can result in downloading an app that might cause mischief because you have been fooled into thinking something useful will happen. Consider the MAC Defender episode, a scareware outbreak, in which a fake app claims to be able to remove viruses from your Mac, at the expense of separating you from your money.

As far as real bugs are concerned, they might be mostly app related. But I know of one issue encountered by a colleague, author Kirk McElhearn, where his iMac would predictably crash under certain circumstances when he played videos. Kirk originally thought, and suggested on my radio show, that the Apple RAM on his spanking new 27-inch iMac might have been responsible, but he was able to duplicate the problem without those memory modules. He’s still investigating, and we’ll update you when the true cause is known.

Besides, you can be assured there will be a 10.7.1 before long, though the rumor sites haven’t mentioned anything about when it might arrive; instead, they are talking of a 10.7.2 update that will be needed for iCloud when it arrives this fall.

One article I read dings Lion for its high system requirements, which is a questionable claim. You need an Intel-based Mac with 2GB of RAM and a Core 2 Duo processor or better. Most recent Macs meet the memory needs; older models require inexpensive upgrades. But no Mac user would expect Leopard or Snow Leopard to delivery snappy performance with less than 2GB of RAM.

Besides, it seems unrealistic to expect Apple not to want to exploit the potential of more recent Macs. Sure they would rather sell you a new computer, but I installed Lion on my son’s 2008 MacBook, with 4GB of RAM, and performance was pretty much on a par with Snow Leopard. What’s more, all the apps he needs work just fine, thank you. If he had a complaint, I’d hear it fast.

As Mac OS upgrades go, Lion seems off to a fine start.

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7 Responses to “The Lion Report: Hits and Misses?”

  1. winc06 says:

    I am not really disappointed in Lion, but I am surprised at how many hot new “features” I have turned off. I have returned to traditional scrolling even though I use an iPad and iPhone.

    I turned off window restoration,Resume, because I usually finish what I am doing before leaving the application and I have found I prefer a fresh start each time.

    I have returned to the classic window layout for Mail. There is just too much information to sort through with the new layout. I have not decided whether the threaded messages really add much to my meager inbox.

    Full screen browsing in Safari just does not add much and adds extra steps to navigation that I put up with in IOS, but not needed on a Mac.

    Spaces was so simple before. Just select from the little menu or click on the app. I still don’t exactly understand how to assign an app to a space with the new one. Why do I have to consult Help or the internet to do something that was obvious with the previous version?

    What in hxxx were they thinking with the default “All my Files” in the Finder window? Who needs that and how do you turn it off? Dragging it out of the left hand column does not change the behavior. It is still the default. I have several thousand images in that column and don’t remember the image number for any of them.

    Ditto, Launchpad. A desktop grid full of icons is not useful. More of a garbage dump than anything else.

    I like the changes in the gestures.

    • @winc06, I think you need to look over your options a bit more. You can configure Spaces easily in Mission Control. Drag an open document window to the upper right, which opens a new desktop. That’s it. As to the default folder for new Finder windows, you’ve always been able to set that as a Finder preference. That’s not new, and you’re not stuck with the default; my choice is Desktop.

      I set Mail with the new layout, but conversations is off. Whatever you like.


  2. Jon says:


    I do like Lion, and feel it is a worthy upgrade. Just one complaint… The auto save “Feature” in Lion, I can’t stand it. Or maybe I’m thinking of the wrong name, but this is what i mean…. If I open a picture in Preview, then close the picture, and then exit out of Preview, guess what? The next time I open Preview, the image I last opened, opens up automatically. I dont want this to happen. I really don’t need other users of the computer knowing what files I last accessed. I know this is in the recent apps anyway, and I really don’t have anything to hide, but even still, if I close a document, I don’t want it to open up again, ever, until I tell it to.

    Oh… one more thing. In Safari, it did take me a little while to figure out where the downloads are. (Not the actual files, rather, the downloads window). Then I realized there isn’t a downloads window. It’s a little pop up bubble now. Not sure I care for that.

    Oops, one more thing… 🙂 Over ten years after OS X was released, the colors of Labels still can’t be modified. Is it really that hard of a programming tweak to make this change? Maybe Apple doesn’t feel like the color of labels matter, or no one uses Labels, but I for one, miss the ability in Mac OS 9 to change the label color. Ah, good old Mac OS 9. Every now and then I do miss you.

    The user interface changes to Lion are an improvement, IMO. Especially the Login screen, I really like the new look.

  3. dfs says:

    I have a bunch of Lion problems, but I’ll limit myself to two. First, AutoSave. While working in Pages I will suddenly have annoying spinning beach ball problems I’ve never experienced before. Is this AutoSave doing its thing? If so, I’d like to know how to disable it. And it I want to retrieve an archived saved document, how exactly do I access it? Lion comes with no instructions whatsoever about how to take advantage of this feature. So for me,in my ignorance, AutoSave appears to be a useless nuisance.

    Then Lion comes ushers in a new Finders window problem. I open a Finder window, choose Icon View, List View, or whatever, then use View Options to tell Finder always to open that window in that particular view. But the Finder will pretty soon forget my instructions and open the window in a different view than the one I want. This would seem to be a pretty bad bug. What I would like is a way of LOCKING a window’s configuration so that it will ALWAYS open in the configuration I want (dimensions, with or without toolbar and sidebar, view) and not pick up the configuration from the last window I have had open. And, by the way, I miss that oval in the upper right hand corner which used to let me toggle toolbar and sidebar open or closed with a single command. Now it takes too separate keyboard commands, and commands that have to be executed in a predetermined order (toolbar before sidebar, and you can never have the sidebar without the toolbar). How exactly is this progress??

  4. dfs says:

    I can’t help adding one more gripe: the Apple USB Modem no longer works with Lion.

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