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

News Analysis: Apple has finally released Mac OS X "Lion," which means it's time for Mac users to prospective Mac buyers to take a moment to learn what they will get from this latest upgrade to Apple's flagship desktop operating system.

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.

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger is a longtime freelance contributor to several technology and business publications. Over his career, Don has written about everything from geek-friendly gadgetry to issues of privacy...