Did Apple Release Lion Too Early?

September 2nd, 2011

I suppose this is the sort of uncertain question that many ask in one form or another whenever Apple or Microsoft releases a major OS upgrade. Early so-called “version one-point-zero” bugs appear, one or two quick updates are released, and you have to wonder whether they might have done better to wait rather than rush the product out.

Now Microsoft released Windows XP and Windows 7 in the fall. The troubled Windows Vista came out in January 2007, missing the holiday season. But it’s also true that lots of PC users decided to miss Vista completely, so they stayed on with XP. Only after the arrival of Windows 7, in October, 2009, did millions of customers finally decide to upgrade to a newer version of Windows, when they weren’t switching to Macs of course.

With Lion, Apple has changed the mold. Unlike previous versions of OS X, most Mac users are expected to download their copies from the Mac App Store, for $29.99. For those who prefer physical media, there is a USB thumb drive version for $69.99, but that price penalty makes it quite clear what Apple expects you to do; that is, if you have a broadband Internet connection or a nearby Wi-Fi hotspot to download your copy.

But the methodology of delivering Lion isn’t the problem. It’s the persistent bugs reported in the initial 10.7 release that trouble a number of Mac users. Some even claim Lion is Apple’s Vista, a major OS upgrade that breaks the mold but is fated to be troublesome because it wasn’t fully baked before release.

First and foremost, I do not regard OS X Lion is necessarily buggier than other OS X upgrades. They all had early-release flaws of one degree or another. It makes sense there will be problems because of all the serious changes in Lion. At the same time, I have little doubt that Apple is going to straighten out the worst ills in the months to come.

Apple also made some critical decisions about Lion and support for older Macs and older software. Some of the early Intel-based Macs, with Core Solo and Core Duo processors, aren’t supported. But that leaves nearly five years of Macs that can run Lion, though some will require an update to at least 2GB RAM. But Apple’s decision to ditch the Rosetta PowerPC emulation software has been a cause of criticism and obvious problems. Many older apps won’t run. There’s not a lick of evidence that Apple would reconsider and develop a version of Rosetta for Lion, or license the technology to a third party. When Apple makes the decision to discard technology that, as they say, is that.

Certainly, Lion had some problems out of the starting gate. The OS 10.7.1 update fixed reported issues with Wi-Fi, the usual inconsistent connections sort of thing. But I still have a different sort of problem, probably related, to report. Just about once a week, I lose Internet access. It only happens on my 27-inch iMac. No other Internet connected device has this trouble, and that includes a Lexmark S800 Genesis printer, iPad 2, iPhone 4, Apple TV, and even the home alarm system. No problems. My iMac was perfectly well behaved prior to installing Lion; never lost the connection. Restarting the router, a Linksys E4200, or the Cox cable modem, made by Cisco, doesn’t change a thing. If I restart the iMac, it just works all over again — until the next failure.

As a corollary, I’ve had occasional problems with streaming TV shows from Netflix on that iMac. I get a “plugin” error, but it may well be that it’s a Netflix issue, one you have to hope they’ll solve this month as millions of customers have to decide whether to accept huge price increases, downgrade services, or look elsewhere. I’ll probably keep the streaming for now.

Otherwise, Lion has performed like a champ. I see no serious performance problems. Even apps that aren’t particularly Lion savvy seem to be relatively well behaved, though some software, such as Word 2011 and the latest Adobe InDesign, seem to take forever to quit.

Now one particularly irritating Lion bug, reported by some, involves reports of random crashes that produce a black screen. Reports trace this problem to the NVIDIA graphics hardware on some 2010 MacBook Pros. There are also reports of poor battery life. Now as the owner of a 17-inch MacBook Pro of that vintage, I have to tell you that I haven’t encountered any graphics oddities, black screens of death, or poor battery life.

As usual with such issues, some problems may be restricted to specific applications or installation scenarios. That makes it doubly difficult for Apple to actually isolate problems of this sort prior to the release date. The final beta testers will always be the early adopters, and that situation is no different with Lion.

Despite some of the complaints, I do not see Lion as being necessarily less stable than other versions of OS X. But there’s nothing wrong with waiting out a few maintenance updates before diving on.

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20 Responses to “Did Apple Release Lion Too Early?”

  1. rwahrens says:

    The only problem I’ve had with Lion is an occasional kernel panic. I’ve had four of them, two before I upgraded the RAM and two after. Two occurred using Safari and two when the iMac was sitting idle. For the record, Safari was running in the background when the unit was idle and it crashed. So were several other apps, Mail and iTunes at least. I’m waiting and hoping that Apple puts out an update soon that may solve the issue.

    My issues with wifi turned out to be with the Favorites wifi panel – the migration from Time Machine brought over several wifi networks into that panel from my MacBook. It turns out that the iMac was trying several of those (and failing of course) and never quite got around to the local wifi like it should have. Deleting the extraneous networks did the trick.

    • gopher says:

      Kernel panics are a sign of damaged directory, bad drivers, or bad hardware. I suggest reading http://www.macmaps.com/kernelpanic.html and also checking your Console application’s log files for the time period of the kernel panic to determine if anything can be said from those logs of why it is happening. Since you found it was the WiFi panel, it might suggest also your Wireless Access point needs a firmware update to be Lion compatible.

  2. rwahrens says:

    Oh, I’ve got a new mid-2011 27″ iMac. Upgraded to Lion after purchase.

  3. Al says:

    “When Apple makes the decision to discard technology that, as they say, is that.” Except when it comes to Final Cut Pro.

    That aside, I agree that Apple will eventually fix the bugs with Lion, it’s just that I am experiencing mostly one problem and it’s the inability of Lion to play well not with some 3rd party app but with Safari. I am experiencing 4-5 crashes a day and it’s starting to get aggravating.

    • @Al, Well, that’s a product, not necessarily a technology, since much of that technology is carried on in Final Cut Pro X, even though features were dropped. 🙂

      It’s the exception that proves the rule. But Apple isn’t going to add internal drives to the MacBook Air.


  4. Brian M says:

    based on years of support, I don’t recommend any “critical” systems (ones that can’t be down, or don’t have time to deal with bugs) not be upgraded to the new OS until at least “x.x.3”

    For people running into stability issues with Safari, check for plugins or toolbar add-ons (extensions not updated for the new version should be disabled upon upgrading, but also worth a check)

  5. rwahrens says:


    The wifi comment was separate from the kernel panic, I think it may have something to do with Safari, as that is the one common element I can see.

    My Time Capsule is new, and set to check for updates weekly, and has not noted any recently, so I think it is already updated. My iMac is set to check for updates daily, too, so I think if Apple put out an update for the Time Capsule, I’d know about it already.

    Apple’s knowledge base article about kernel panics suggests creating an external drive loaded with Lion to run only essential services in order to test for a hardware cause, but I am reluctant to do that, because the panics happen so seldom. It might take a week to see another one, and since I am not certain as to cause (I cannot seem to induce one) I can’t make it happen. I’d have to wait.

    So, I’ll wait to see if Apple puts out another update soon – there HAVE been reports of Lion kernel panics – and hope that mine is one of those.

  6. G-BO says:

    I bought a new 13″ MBP with the i5 core that has Snow Leopard on it. I got the free upgrade to Lion and WHAT A MESS. No Rosetta(Big BAD there), wifi dropped constantly, and the Spaces aka Mission Control is all jacked up. The 10.7.1 release didn’t correct the issues I was having and IMO, was a weak update considering all the issues still out there. So, thanks to Time Machine, my MBP went from a Snow Leopard to a Lion…and back to being a Snow Leopard.

    My one hesitation and hope is for the 10.6.9 update that it will enable some base iCloud functionality for Snow Leopard. It would suck to not have access to iCloud, but I don’t have it now, so am I really losing anything? I don’t think so.

  7. Hi Gene,
    Are the any threats to society’s ability to access its history should the tools to access past stories be no longer available?

    Books are relatively permanently available in libraries unlike stories stored in electronic form, the latter may be onerously difficult if not impossible to access when technological tools used to previously available to asses them are not available as easily as walking into a library.

    Market forces dictate that private enterprise has no interest in past history. Gov. forces make sure that governments has an interest in, and citizens have assess to, past history.

  8. Tc60045 says:

    Dual monitor support for full-screen apps in Lion is broken, badly. It really baffles me. I’m sure Apple will address it, but they haven’t explained why it is: go to FS on an app and poof, the second monitor is a screen full of gray linen. Totally bizarre and unfunctional.

    IPhoto backups / restores from Time Machine are also odd under Lion. Very different.

    But despite that, I’ve found Lion to be a great upgrade for the price.

  9. mysterian1729 says:

    > There’s not a lick of evidence that Apple would reconsider and develop a version of Rosetta for Lion, or license
    > the technology to a third party. When Apple makes the decision to discard technology that, as they say, is that.

    It wasn’t theirs to license or develop. It is IBM’s! and IBM has not licensed it to ANYONE since acquiring it. I suspect all Apple had was the binary and the ICD which makes it very difficult to make significant OS changes.

    > Did Apple Release Lion Too Early?
    No, once the .1 version was in work it is necessary to ship .0 otherwise you will end up in a “bag of hurt.”

    • @mysterian1729, Ever hear of Transitive? That’s a company that had developed this sort of technology, and Apple reportedly licensed it at that time?


      • mysterian1729 says:

        @Gene Steinberg,
        You are aware that Transitive was purchased by IBM in June 2009 and Transitive products are no longer available.

        • rwahrens says:


          Usually, when a company is purchased, and another company has purchased a license from that company, the buying entity is bound by those licenses. Just because Transitive isn’t selling any more doesn’t mean that Apple still doesn’t have a right to the license, and thus to use the technology.

          Then again, now that Apple has decided to dump Rosetta, it’s kinda moot, wouldn’t you say?

  10. George says:


    The major problems I have had with Lion are also loss of internet, requiring a restart, and problems with Netflix. I keep a .dmg of Silverlight and reinstall it and that fixes the Netflix issue. Safari does not seem to be the culprit with the internet woes, Firefox does the same thing. There are plenty of smaller glitches too.


  11. dfs says:

    There shouldn’t be much major trouble with Lion. Most of the “under the hood” changes were already made with Snow Leopard, most of what Lion has to offer really consists of a suite of new and upgraded utility apps and some interface tweaks. It does have a few irritating bugs (I’ve already commented on my pet peeve, its proclivity to forget user-selected display of windows — you set a given window to open in Icon View, then for some reason or other it opts to open that window in List View, and so forth). That’s the only stability issue I’ve encountered. And i. m. h. o. Apple made some bad choices (for inst., a lot of users have complained that it is impossible to switch off AutoSave), that hopefully will be fixed in future versions in response to customer demand). But personally I haven’t encountered any problems that rise above the level of minor irritants. As for non-support of Rosetta, if you really need to keep on using Quicken or whatever, it I would imagine you should be able to keep on running Snow Leopard in emulation mode under Parallels Desktop.

  12. Anim8me2 says:

    Betteridge’s Law.

    The answer to the headline is “No”.

  13. Keyword says:

    The Lion feature that’s driving me nuts is “Resume.” I have a lot of things open at once, from sources both internal and external – big photoshop files, videos, etc. I also live in a rural area with unreliable power. Despite a big UPS, a voltage regulator, and a generator, the power can still cut out abruptly. And when it does, in spite of having unchecked the “Restore windows when quitting and re–opening apps” checkbox, when I restart all those apps I had open start trying to reopen the windows that were open before, including huge photoshop files and/or Final Cut Pro projects… even if the device they were on is no longer mounted. This can make restarts interminable. And it’s all just because they want to make it more like using an iPad. I don’t want it to be like that – I want it to be like using a Mac Pro to get complex work done. Mmmmphf!

    And… Why can’t we have BOTH “Save As…” and “Duplicate.” This is mindless nube pandering at the expense of long-time users.

  14. Did Apple release Mac OS X Lion too early? – MacDailyNews … | lion says:

    […] much more in the full article here. MacDailyNews Take: Aside from some funkiness with artifacts on desktops with dual monitor setups […]

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