All you people out there that drink the Kool Aid and are going to hate me for giving anything that Apple did less than a 5-star rating aren’t going to like this, but I’m going to say it anyway. I typically love Apple products, have two iMacs, an iPad, and an iPhone, and, despite my opinions about this version of OS X, still think that it far surpassed any version of Windows that I’ve used. There are some things about Apple’s new version of Lion OS X 10.7, though, that a lot of people won’t know before upgrading, and people should be informed before making this update. A lot of what I’m about to say is opinion, but it’s based on the experiences that I’ve had with Lion after using it both at work and at home for a little over a week.
The biggest problem with Lion that I have had (and it’s huge) is the way that it connects to Windows servers (update: I found a temporary solution). In order for an Apple machine to connect to a windows network, it needs to use a connection called SMB to communicate. With Lion, Apple decided to do away with their previous method of connecting via SMB in favor of their own in-house method. The problem is that for some users, it just plain doesn’t work. I connect to a 2008 Windows File Server at work via SMB using Active Directory, and there is something about the way that the SMB connection works now that has made it so that my iMac cannot connect to the file server. There is one application (MU Commander) that I have found that will get around this limitation, but it doesn’t allow me to actually work on a file and save it…it simply gets around Lion’s deficiencies to let me view the file, but in order to open it, it copies it to a local temporary drive, and I can’t save what I’m doing. This means that when I’m working on a file that has other linked files (like InDesign) I can’t access the linked files at all. This is a major problem, and Apple has not addressed the issue at all (see my post of the Apple Discussion Forum). There are many things about my job that I actually can’t do since upgrading to Lion. I upgraded because I figured, what the heck, it’s only $30. What could go wrong? Well…I didn’t anticipate anything like this.
With this release Apple appears to be specifically targeting MacBook users. Gestures is one of the biggest benefits about this release, yet that’s something that doesn’t impact an iMac or Mac Pro user at all (unless you own a trackpad…for some reason). They added some gestures that work on the Magic Mouse, but they are limited. Add to that that they changed the one Magic Mouse gesture that I actually used (two finger swipe to go Back and Forward in a web browser) so that it jumps between full screen apps, as if I’m running a bunch of them at once (which I never am).
Launchpad is overhyped, and frankly, they took an aspect of the iPad that I didn’t like and pushed it to the Mac. The small screen of an iPhone necessitated icon-driven applications. Running on the same iOS platform, the iPad used the icon-driven approach as well. But, when you have hundreds of applications, this is not a convient way of navigating. You need to remember where you put the icons in order to open an application, and if you can’t, then you need to revert to search. In Launchpad, you don’t even have the ability to search. You are limited to an icon-driven environment with only one level of available folder structure. Launchpad also interprets uninstall files as Applications, so if you have the Creative Suite installed, you will get an uninstall “App” for each program in the Creative Suite.
Mission Control is basically Spaces and Expose combined together, gives you the ability to drag and drop windows into different Spaces, and see a quick overview of everything that’s going on on your Mac at the same time. It’s helpful in some ways. If you’re a huge user of Spaces, you’ll probably love it. If you don’t use the Spaces concept, you actually won’t like it because it makes your Expose windows smaller.
I’m told that there are a lot of sercurity enhancements in Lion. I have no idea what they are, but apparently my Mac is harder to hack into now. Hooray. Keep making me safer. But, I prefer security enhancements being pushed to me through Software Updates.
At the end of the day, there’s really nothing about Lion that I love, a few things that I like (and are growing on me), but there is one thing that I hate: the SMB issue. For professionals, this should be a deal breaker. Wait to upgrade until you are sure that you will be able to connect to your file servers. I’m sure that as things like full screen applications, Versions, and other parts of the OS get more widely adopted, I’ll end up liking Lion more. However, the SMB issue needed a fix yesterday, and I won’t be a happy camper until it is.
Share your experiences with Lion in the comments. If you find a fix to my SMB problem, I will declare you my best friend for life. (Update: my IT guy wins the title)