OS X Lion: Apple’s Vista

While I’ve written in defense of Apple, in the end it’s just a computer and sooner or later ANY operating system is going to have it’s foibles. I switched to a Mac back in 2006, and while Mac OS 10.4 was marginally more stable than Windows XP, the programs themselves had a tendency to randomly crash. No blue screens of death for the OS itself, though! Nope, that was steady as a rock.

The point is no computer is immune to screwing up sometime. We simply pick what errors we’re more willing to live with. (And as an aside, while XP was far more prone to malware, it’s also the most insanely prolific operating system even ten years after it released.)

I literally chuckled smug chuckles of smug during Microsoft’s Vista years. It was a memory-hogging hodgepodge of forced “features” that made everything more obtrusive and difficult to use. Project Longhorn was supposed to be glorious, and instead people got a UAC that had to be turned off because it’s security benefit got in the way of every little task you tried to accomplish. Vista was so awful users would “upgrade” back to XP, and it never gained more than a 19% installation base. Apple jumped on this with blatantly mocking (and successful) ad campaigns to woo users burned by Vista.

But now, Apple seems to have done a remarkable job of causing me to do a “one-eighty”. OS X Lion (or 10.7 in more logical terms) seems like a massive step back in usability for something named after the king of the jungle. I saw no need to upgrade my old white MacBook from 10.6- the new OS literally has no “must-have” features except for iTunes matching. But I bought a new MacBook Pro to replace both my aging Core2 Duo MacBook and a Dell XPS m1710 gaming rig- and while the hardware is fantastic it left me with no option but 10.7 on the Mac OS X partition.

The problems begin with the importation of my old profile. I’ve upgraded my old Core2 Duo MacBook from 10.4 to 10.5 and 10.6 and it has literally been effortless and trouble-free every time. Apple lived up to their “It just works” mantra… until now.

Upon booting the machine, 10.7 requires some setup. No problem, right? Every computer needs to be told country, language, time zone, etc. on initial setup. The problem is I have to set up my name, user account and Apple ID… Then when I go to import all my files from my old laptop’s Time Machine backup, I’m told I can’t because it’s conflicting (the same) user profile. Seriously? Apple didn’t think there are sole-user systems out there and account for it in the very profile importation software they provided?

This is just the start.

Over the next few days I get the joy of having a dual-installation of my user profile on the OS X Lion partition of my MacBook’s hard drive, doubling the space taken and causing significant bloat. While all the tech websites complained about reverse scrolling in Lion to mirror smart phone and tablet behavior, that’s the ONE aspect I took to like a duck to water! It’s brilliant (note: I’m using the laptop’s trackpad, not a mouse). Unfortunately, that’s obscured by the default options of Lion like not showing me how much disc space I have available, or hiding my library from me and making the Finder open up to some bizarre “All Files” window. To a compulsive organizer like me, there is no longer any order to my OS. I’ve got dual-install bloat, and my files are a freaking mess all over the place.

I hate you, OS X Lion.

But it’s ok. At least I’ve got all my expensive applications that I purchased for podcasting and telephone interviews, right? Wrong. Lion dropped all PowerPC support. Now, I didn’t buy a Mac until after the Intel switch (although I fantasized about iMacs since the G4), and I didn’t even know that some of the programs I had purchased and used heavily were old PPC-based affairs. That’s how lightweight and unobtrusive emulation through Rosetta was- you didn’t even notice it. But that’s dead with Lion. There was one good native Mac gameĀ and Lion killed it. MacTheRipper, an excellent DVD archiving program, quit working. My $80 (big money when you’re a student) WireTap program that I used for all my telephone interviews on the podcast is suddenly incompatible. And it broke the only copy of Plants vs. Zombies I had that still had the Michael Jackson zombie!

I hate you, OS X Lion.

So we’ve got crappy interfaces, less system information provided to the user, system bloat, and arbitrary killing off support of applications.

Seriously. I hate you, OS X Lion.

Unfortunately, I’m, still addicted to the far superior products that iPhoto, GarageBand, and iMovie let you put out. They’re bundled in, insanely polished and easy to use. For media production, there’s just no better option short of full-blown professional software. And the hardware design is so much nicer than ostentatious or cobbled together Windows machines that I’ll keep buying Apple computers… for now.

But why I really love my laptop right now is the screaming fast installation of Windows 7 on the Boot CampĀ partition of the hard drive. The partition that I boot into 98% of the time, now. It’s blazing fast (a 7.9 on the Windows User Experience index), with excellent driver support from Apple, Win7 still supports and runs old XP programs (even some Windows 98SE!), and gaming on it in Steam is a dream come true. With Microsoft’s driver support for a USB Xbox 360 gamepad, and Google’s Chrome web browser…? This is heaven! When Windows 7 came out lots of Apple fans (myself included) laughed at how they had simply copied Apple once again. The Taskbar cloned the Dock from OS X, and Windows Aero interface bears a striking resemblance to Apple’s Aqua both in name and appearance. But Windows copied a good version of OS X.

The MacBook is awesome hardware that I honestly love, with a native OS that I avoid until I’m forced to use it for media production. Seriously- I try to shoot, edit, and upload YouTube videos solely on my iPhone 4S. I’ll only log into Lion if I need a file on that partition, or a video effect the mobile iMovie doesn’t give me. Lion is that bad; Windows 7 is that good.

It’s a weird world for an Apple switcher.

8 thoughts on “OS X Lion: Apple’s Vista

  1. Pingback: The Myth of the Apple Tax | eric.r.shelton

  2. Great article, son. I enjoy your perspective and value your opinion. It sounds a little bit like the larger Apple grows, the more they resemble Microsoft. I always wanted to game, that meant Microsoft, I never liked who ran Apple, again, that led me to Microsoft. The fears of malware, etc, never bothered me much, I always figured that it was Apple or Ubuntu employees spreading that anyway! So, for me, sticking with Windows is a no-brainer. That being said, I definitely don’t have the software requirements that you do, so I understand completely!

  3. Pingback: Eric Shelton on Mac OS Lion | Shall Not Be Questioned

  4. Windows 7 was a seriously improvement on Microsoft’s part. We’ll see if they bungle things up with Windows 8 or add more to the fray.

    PS – Looking forward to seeing you post some more. Be safe bro.

  5. The main problem with Apple is that they gulp their own Koolaid. Everything they do is right simply because they are Apple and Apple does everything right. Everyone who disagrees is just a hater even if you’re an Apple customer with iPhones and MacBooks. When they get rid of the arrogance instilled in the company by Steve, they’ll be better off. They are capable of great work, but when it’s not so great, all they do is circle the wagons, deny, and drink some more Koolaid.

    • I’m not a fan of the term “Koolaid”. It’s used too often to simply disparage Apple when they do make some great products and are far more revolutionary and have greater impact than the competition. But in this instance I get your point and agree. I love my new(ish) MacBook Pro and Bootcamp/Parallels… This is a truly awesome system. But a part of me will always wish I’d stuck with Snow Leopard.

  6. Pingback: Switching Back | eric.r.shelton

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