Apple Releases Mac OS X 'Lion': 10 Things You Should Know

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2011-07-20

Apple Releases Mac OS X 'Lion': 10 Things You Should Know

After a long wait and some speculation about when it would finally launch, Apple has officially released Mac OS X "Lion," the latest upgrade to the company's desktop operating system, for distribution through the Mac App Store. Now that the operating system is released, consumers and enterprise users around the globe can determine if it's the right platform for them.

But before those folks decide to download the operating system or buy a Mac running it, they should be informed of several things about Apple's latest software release. Not only are there some outstanding new additions, but the operating system also comes with some new ideas that might make folks pause before they buy the new version.

The following information should help customers determine if Lion is worth using on a daily basis.

1. Say good-bye to discs

Perhaps the biggest change with Mac OS X "Lion" is the end of discs. Rather than offer hard storage media to distribute the new edition, Apple is making its operating system available as a $29.99 download in the Mac App Store. The move underscores the importance of digital media in today's marketplace and might also make some wonder if Microsoft will follow suit and offer only digital versions of Windows in the coming years.

2. A USB drive is coming next month

Before consumers and enterprise users get too upset about the end of discs, it's important for them to know that Apple will be offering Lion on a USB drive starting in August. That USB stick will cost $69, but offer customers a physical place to access the operating system. It seems like an ideal option for those who don't have a broadband connection.

3. It's a marked improvement over Snow Leopard

Prior to the launch of Mac OS X Lion, Snow Leopard reigned supreme in the Mac ecosystem. However, with Lion now available, Snow Leopard looks rather obsolete. According to Apple, Lion has more than 250 improvements, ranging from a new Mission Control feature that lets users see the programs that are open and far greater support for multitouch gestures. As nice as Snow Leopard is, Lion is a better bet for current Mac owners.

4. It's cheap

Windows users are abundantly aware of how expensive it is to deploy a new version of that operating system. For its part, Microsoft says that it charges so much-$119.99 to $219.99 for Home Premium or Ultimate upgrades alone-because Windows 7 delivers so many new improvements over Vista and XP. But Windows 7 looks extremely expensive compared with Lion's $29.99 price. Granted, Lion isn't a revolutionary upgrade, but it is a sizable one. And for $29.99, it's readily affordable. This pricing gives a lot of incentive to consumers as well as businesses to switch to the Macintosh.

Multitouch Moves to Mac OS X


5. Versions is a nice feature

One of the nicer additions to Mac OS X Lion is Versions. With Versions running, users can type out documents and, without any input, watch the feature automatically back up the document as they work. If they want to go back to a previous version, users can do so by sifting through all the versions that this feature saved. It seems that Apple is intent on making Lion a useful service for power users, and Versions is central to that.

6. Resume could be a winner

Resume is another fine addition to Mac OS X Lion. With it, users who shut down applications or restarted or shut off their Macs can boot them back up and pick up where they left off. Like Versions, Resume is designed for folks who don't necessarily save as often as they should or need the recovery option in case something goes wrong. Resume alone might be a good enough reason for some customers to deploy Lion.

7. It speaks to Apple's future plans

If nothing else, Mac OS X Lion indicates what Apple has planned for the future. The operating system shows that Apple is serious about ending the reign of discs and going digital. It also shows that the company will likely offer new updates to its operating system every couple years, since Lion was released about that long after Snow Leopard. Most importantly, it means that Apple isn't prepared to deliver a major update to its operating system, and would rather stick with small, frequent updates. Simply put, Lion says quite a bit about Apple's future.

8. Apps take center stage

When the Mac App Store launched in January, and Snow Leopard users were able to download it to their OS installation, Apple made it clear that it believed applications were important to its future. But in Lion, it's clear that apps are the most important aspect of its operating system. Not only is the update available through the Mac App Store, but it comes with the marketplace built-in, indicating that Apple believes that its future in software is tied to apps. Going forward, just about every meaningful Mac application will be available through the Mac App Store, and Apple couldn't be happier about that.

9. Multitouch means everything to Apple

When Apple first launched the iPhone in 2007, the company indicated that it believed touch screens and multitouch functionality were integral to the future of the mobile market. But with the launch of Lion, Apple is seemingly saying that it believes multitouch also has a future in notebooks and desktop models. Lion comes with a host of new gestures, ranging from pinch-to-zoom to swiping. By offering that, Lion is capitalizing on the success of Apple's multitouch-equipped mobile devices, the iPad and iPhone. And it's slyly telling the competition that multitouch must play a role in every product they sell, regardless of whether it's a mobile platform or not.

10. It's a preview of things to come from Windows 8

Mac OS X Lion is delivering many features that could very well make their way to Windows 8. For one, rumors suggest that Microsoft's next operating system, which is scheduled to launch next year, could come with an application marketplace. What's more, Microsoft is building in plenty of tablet support with Windows 8, meaning multitouch gestures will also play an important role in the new operating system. As Microsoft reveals more details on Windows 8 in the coming months, onlookers might quickly realize that Mac OS X Lion is a fine indication of what is coming in Microsoft's next operating system.

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