Nice Lion

I haven’t played with Mac OS X Lion yet, only read, John Siracusa’s lovely long review.  John suggested a while  ago that Apple had learned somethings from the iPhone/iPod/iPad, and that these things were likely to fundamentally change the way the Mac worked.  At the time my reaction was; “but of course,”  and I wondered: how aggressively can they manage to drive toward these goals.

Lion answers that question.  Fast and hard seems to be the answer.  I impressed!  And, good for them!

This will be very disconcerting for long time Mac users, a real culture shock.  They will complain, a lot.

Stewards of high tech platforms have to manage a balancing act.  If they don’t force the migration of their users into the future the platform dies.  Doing this runs counter to the cliche that you should listen to your users.  In this case your users don’t know diddly.

Usually when this happens the platform steward is chasing a future innovated by some upstart.  As Google is now doing with Facebook and Twitter.  As the voice telco industry has long been doing with the internet.  And in such cases the existing culture around the existing product is a nearly immovable object.  For Apple the upstart is in house.  I bet that’s an interesting story.  I wonder if you stand outside the Apple campus you can hear the shouting matches.

What’s unique about the Apple situation is that I suspect their primary source of new Mac OS X customers are users who already used the IPhone.  The discomfort those users feel when they encounter the Mac must be huge.  Sum that up and I bet is is much larger than the discomfort the Mac installed base is going to feel as Apple forces them into the new user experience.

But enough about the b-school view of what Apple is doing.  A few comments about the actual changes.

The mouse is pretty much dead, long live touch.  I can’t wait to experience how they designed all that.

Respect for screen real estate is back in a big way.  I’m delighted.  I’m very intrigued by what they did with scrolling, scroll bars, and window resizing.  It looks awesome.  Full screen apps are a no brainer.  If they werent’ so damn modal I’d have expected them much sooner.  It’s interesting to think about what it is that enables them to finally arrive now.

Applications now just are.  They don’t run, they are.  User experience guys have known for decades that this was the right model, so it’s nice to see that we are finally doing it.  The design looks sufficently elegant and complex.  Particularly the codependency on changes in how documents are managed.

I can wait to try this.  Really.  I think this maybe the first Mac OS release since the beginning that has called out to my fancy like this.

2 thoughts on “Nice Lion

  1. David Chapman

    I upgraded hours after it came out, with only one minor hitch. (The Spotlight index was screwed up and I had to force re-indexing.) I’ve got a lot of weird and/or old software, all of which runs fine. Why don’t you make a backup and just do it?

    Having all four corners of windows resizable fixes my number one complaint about Mac OS since switching from Windows.

    On the b-school point. I think they actually want to push their mass-market users onto iOS (the iphone/ipad operating system) entirely. It’s a better UI and easier to understand and very soon it will do 100% of what 90% of consumers need a computer to do.

    So they are converging the UX of the two now in preparation for mass-market laptops and iMacs running iOS in a year or two.

    They’ll have to keep Mac OS for power users for a while. Maybe it can be phased out completely someday, maybe not.

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