If you’re reading this, Apple has, after much NDA-violating coverage of the pre-release versions, released Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, the latest version of Apple’s Macintosh operating system. But don’t worry, this isn’t a letter from the grave—despite sticking our heads in Lion’s maw over the last few months, we’re still alive and well.
This isn’t the place to tell you how to upgrade to and use Lion – those topics warrant nearly 300 pages in Joe Kissell’s “Take Control of Upgrading to Lion” and Matt Neuburg’s “Take Control of Using Lion.” Instead, we want to look more at what Lion means to the average TidBITS reader, by which we mean someone who has been using the Mac for many years and has a virtual warehouse not just of software and data, but of knowledge and usage techniques.
We’ll look at some of Lion’s marquee features shortly, but first, we want to address one of the key questions that comes up with respect to any software upgrade: should you upgrade? Normally, that’s a totally valid question because, with a few exceptions, most upgrades are somewhat optional for current users and can be evaluated on the basis of how much new and improved functionality they provide for the price.
But with Lion, the upgrade isn’t optional for the vast majority of people. Sure, you can’t upgrade right now if you have only a PowerPC-based Mac, or if you’re reliant on PowerPC-based software that can’t run without Rosetta (see “Rosetta and Lion: Get Over It?,” 23 May 2011). But it’s the unusual Mac that’s an island nowadays, and we believe that at some point within the next few years, a Mac running Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard or earlier will cease to be able to sync with iOS devices.