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The Cases Against Apple's Lion OS

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This week, Apple unleashed the Lion -- the latest version of its Mac OS X. Reviews are flooding in, and many are pleased with the changes. Tech curmudgeon and Apple fanatic Walt Mossberg heaped praise upon the release and called it a "big leap" and "the best computer operating system out there."

And while the majority of reviewers echo Mossberg's sentiments and are in favor of most of the new features, there are others who have their reservations. None are scathing attacks -- save for maybe the take provided by Gizmodo's Jesus Diaz -- but they do present a case on why you should hold off on upgrading right now.

Put another way: It's not Final Cut Pro X, but it's certainly not a must-have slam dunk -- even at $30.

Lifehacker's Melanie Pinola lists reasons why someone should and shouldn't upgrade to Lion. In the pro column, Pinola suggests if you're a heavy iCal and Mail user with an SSD, loads of sensitive data, and have another Mac in the house, you might consider it. However, Lifehacker's speed tests show Lion actually trailing Snow Leopard in the time it takes to do everyday tasks. Pinola adds that the possible incompatibility of certain apps -- like the indispensible VLC Media Player -- could be a deal-breaker. And given their assorted annoyances, new features like Auto-Save, Version Control, Resume, and Full-Screen Mode end up being more trouble than they're worth in certain situations.

Wired's Brian X. Chen also voiced his grievances with Lion. Rating the new version a 7 out of 10, Chen bemoaned the new inverted scrolling mode. Mimicking a smartphone and tablet computer, your laptop touchpad now scrolls pages up when swiping your fingers down. He argues, "[It's] the disconnect between peripheral and screen that makes it less intimate than a touchscreen device, and therefore uncomfortable to replace traditional mouse gestures with the real-world swipe." (He does acknowledge that this feature can be turned off.) Chen continues that Launchpad doesn't work well with a mouse and keyboard interface, calling it "tacky and inefficient." He even goes so far as to use the word "ugly" -- a rare word to use in an Apple product review -- to describe Mission Control's clutter.

And then there's the aforementioned review by Gizmodo's Jesus Diaz.

As his opening, Diaz writes, "It breaks my heart to say this, but Mac OS X Lion's interface feels like a failure. Its stated mission was to simplify the operating system, to unify it with the clean experience of iOS. That didn't happen. If it weren't for the fast, rock-solid Unix, graphics and networking cores, Lion would be Apple's very own Vista."

He criticizes Apple's efforts to unify desktop and tablet interfaces and "Lion's multiple personality problem" of trying to combine simplicity and control in the same OS -- which, he argues, satisfies neither. Chen adds that the gesture-based controls is a mish-mash of conflicting concepts and even Address Book's new interface is a giant step backwards in form and function.

Calling it a "mess of what was previously totally acceptable," Chen concludes, "I don't need Lion, and you probably don't need it either."

Obviously, your mileage may vary. But it sounds like there are solid reasons against being an early adopter.

My advice: Wait until 10.7.1.

(See also: Apple Gets Slammed by Conan O'Brien and Chinese Scammers Counterfeit an Entire Apple Store!)

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