- Ease of use Retains all the classic simplicity of Apple's desktop OS, but numerous changes to existing ways of doing common tasks require some real getting used to.
- Speed Some bits of Lion seem faster on existing hardware, others not so much. Seems like much of this will get fixed in future updates.
- Configurability For all the complaints about changes made in Lion, nearly everything is revertible -- except Spaces.
- Ecosystem (apps, drivers, etc.) Not much has been changed or disrupted in Lion, and many of my most commonly used apps have been quick to issue compatibility updates.
- Openness For expert users, Lion is not really any more or less difficult to get under the hood of and tinker with.
Chrome-free full-screen applications are one of the marquee features of Lion, as well as a new icon-centric application launcher (Launchpad). While not particularly my cup of tea, both features should give you a sense of Apple's portable device-inspired interface and design priorities in the new Mac OS. There are also a number of other great new features introduced in Lion such as AirDrop -- the easiest way I've ever seen to transfer files from one machine to another -- as well as built-in file versioning and auto-saving. Even some of the geekier parts of the system that many people may never see (like the Terminal application, for instance) have gotten some really great improvements.
However, my chief complaints, which you're likely to have heard by other users and reviewers, are largely to do with the numerous (and arguably unnecessary) changes Apple has made to various productivity-centric features of OS X, such as with Spaces (now Mission Control), multi-touch gestures, and certain applications like iCal.
Although with a little practice one can get used to Lion's new "natural" (translation: inverted) scrolling, for example, the change to decades of habit seems unnecessary to me. (Fortunately, yes, you can easily switch it off -- although I've chosen to stick it out and retrain myself.) One of my personal favorite productivity tools in previous versions of OS X, Spaces, has been subsumed into Mission Control, de-emphasizing its unique and highly effective role in window and desktop management in favor of a more all-in-one approach that I find significantly less useful or intuitive.
As with almost all early releases of Mac OS X, the first version of Lion has a few bugs and kinks to be worked out beyond its various interface changes. Of course, those things tend to get much better with time, and Apple has a proven track record of rapidly issuing fixes to its (desktop) operating systems. Overall, I've found the early Lion bugs have been largely trivial.
Apple's process of evolving and simplifying its products is unchanged in Lion, the company having clearly spent a lot of time rethinking many key interactions to help the OS get out of the way or be more useful. But this time around a variety of the interface decisions and commonly used tasks in OS X have wound up becoming more challenging, less intuitive, or simply don't fit as well within the desktop metaphor as Apple might have hoped. While I definitely don't agree with PCWorld that Lion might be Apple's Vista ( www.pcworld.com/article/227299/mac_app_store_upgra... ), overall the out-of-the-box experience does seem significantly less familiar and instinctual to me than recent versions of OS X. I really don't remember the last time I felt in any way disoriented using an Apple environment -- but here I am.
Still, it's hard to deny that for most people, Lion is a worthy upgrade -- especially when you consider the low price ($30) and ease of acquiring it (just a few clicks in the Mac App Store). You may not love everything about Lion, but I think most Mac users will ultimately have much more to gain than lose from upgrading.
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Updated detailed review
Updated detailed review