If the Apple rumours are correct, later in the year we’ll see a new Mac OS arrive in the guise of the as-yet-unnamed 10.8. They’ve already worked up the big cat power ladder to reach Lion, so I wonder what they’ll call the next one: Sabre Tooth Tiger, maybe?
For the record, here’s the list of Mac OS X big cats:
Cheetah (10.0), Puma (10.1), Jaguar (10.2), Panther (10.3), Tiger (10.4), Leopard (10.5), Snow Leopard (10.6) and Lion (10.7)
If you’ve come to Mac from a PC, you probably don’t care about 10.8 0r 10.7 or 10.6 or 10.5. I repair Macs and train new users on Macs and Final Cut Pro for a living. As long as your Mac lights up and connects to the internet, everything else is just bitter geeks being precious. Right?
I bought my first Mac in 1997, I became an Apple support professional when Macs ran on 10.4 (only 3% of computer owners used Apple) and for 15 years before Lion came along, I endured being the Mac-leper at geek gatherings, the deluded Apple fan raving about how intuitive and stable my Mac was compared to your pathetic Dell laptop, Earthling. And all the while, Windows users shrugged and stared at their Microsoft egg-timer, vowing never to change.
And then along came the iPhone and iPad…and with them, Lion…
Oh, I understand the irony, that this meant an increase in the OS market share from 3% to nearer 10%, and nearer 50% for smartphone users. So why the long face?
Well, here it is. I neither love or hate Lion. But after two months of using it, I rolled back to Snow Leopard. I can see Lion’s advantages (well, one advantage: multi-touch gestures for switching between Spaces) and disadvantages (Dashboard widgets? bloated functionality? lack of backward compatibility? unnecessary pretty animations? Launchpad? LAUNCHPAD! Making my Mac, which has the processing power to make an iPad or iPhone cower with fear, into a fat, bloated, heavy… iPad?).
Lion feels rushed, it feels like a stopgap, it feels like a marketing tool designed to lure in new users. To paraphrase Hannibal Lector, Lion is a blunt little tool.
For anyone who has used Snow Leopard, even a year on, Lion stands out as a disappointing update. Aside from the compatibility issues, Lion does little to improve on Snow Leopard. Long before its 8th update (10.6.8) ironed out any wrinkles, Snow Leopard just worked. Its stability was astonishing. It was like a trusty, reliable workhorse, muscular and powerful. Lion, by contrast, is a prancing pony. A fun, flash and good looking pony, but prone to crying itself to sleep in its stable at night because it feels so empty inside.
But Lion’s not a disaster. Hell, it’s not Apple Vista. But as an Apple professional, I am a bit embarrassed that this is the first experience many users have of a Mac. After 15 years of pushing Apple to anyone who would listen, I imagine it’s how Neil Armstong feels when people bang on how great Virgin Galactic is. Suborbital spaceflight? Man, I’ve been to the moon.