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Mac OS X Lion Hairballs

Last updated August 08, 2011 - Send Feedback

With any new major operating system release, there is the risk of loss productivity, not just from compatibility issues, but also with “errors and omissions” and indeed downright downgrades of functionality that serious users need and use every day.

I can’t recall ever seeing a Mac OS release with such sloppy and inconsidered work.

The following pages document a variety of relatively minor issues, but ones that have impaired my productivity each and every day I use Mac OS X Lion 10.7 (as compared to Mac OS X 'Snow Leopard' 10.6).

These comments apply to the first release of Lion. Obviously some things will be fixed over time, but structural hits generally do not get improved (or degraded again) until the next major release.

Advice for professionals

My advice to professionals that rely on an established workflow is to wait an absolute minimum of three months before adopting any new major operating system, unless there is some compelling new functionality for one’s particular workflow.

Furthermore, it is wise to move to a new operating system on a secondary or new computer before whacking the primary computer, possibly in a way that is irreversible, as should be noted with the case of Apple Mail, which fiendishly “upgrades” its mail organization, making it impossible to even reboot from another drive with Snow Leopard and use the same mail.

No serious functionality

With only one or two exceptions (e.g. encryption and some work-impairing security changes), Mac OS X Lion is an “eye candy” release.

Aside from superficial graphical changes (very few for the better), the important stuff under the covers has been little changed, or even degraded in some cases, such as an increased prevalence of machine hangs with a spinning rainbow beachball.

A move towards a toy environment

Apple has take up a dangerous trend for professionals, driven by the iPhone and iPad world: a tendency to oversimplify the user interface, to remove command-key shortcuts, to force multi-step efforts for what used to be a single step.

Reader Gene F puts it succinctly:

It's a disaster. A few recent Apple upgrades have been dumb-downs. I'm starting to worry they've peaked and, having eclipsed Microsoft's market cap, are headed inexorably to resembling a public utility. It's the way value-to-growth transitions tend to happen in industry.


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