Test drive: Mac OS X 10.7 Lion - The lion roars

Sep 13, 2011, 10:28 IST | Sachin Kalbag
An OS that remembers exactly what you did the last time you were online, and lets you seamlessly back up your files and documents is a winner, even with the gripes about scrolling and the continued non-availability of Adobe Flash

Back in the 1970s (and it could well be still around), there was something called a "double promotion" in school wherein a student, if he or she were brilliant, was sent two classes up instead of the succeeding class.

This was done at the discretion of his teachers and the school principal. It was not unusual, therefore, to see some children clearing Standard X at the age of 12 or 13, instead of 15.

I was reminded of this because Steve Jobs the 'school principal' in question at Apple, now the most valued technology company in the world - has denied a double promotion to those who want to upgrade to the Mac OS X Lion if you don't have the previous version installed; the Snow Leopard released almost two years ago.
So, if you have a version installed prior to that one (Leopard and below), you cannot upgrade to the Lion.
There is a reason for this.

Buy the Lion OS through the Mac App Store, and since no previous version (except the Snow Leopard) of the Mac OS had App Store support, you have no option but to upgrade to the Snow Leopard if you're stuck with a previous version.

Bummer! (Yet another minor bummer is the non-inclusion of the Adobe Flash Player, but it can be installed manually).

To be sure, there are not too many with the Lion OS, and the coolest feature to me was the 'iCloud for OS X Lion'. This is truly a remarkable piece of software that allows users to sync their emails and contacts. And, as I learned much later to my delight, also allows you to seamlessly backup files and documents.

But my favourite has to be this: it remembers what you did in your previous session. Everything, literally. Login, and you will go back to exactly where you were earlier, including the tabs on the browser.

However, it did not work by default on Firefox and Opera, but you can change that by right-clicking the browser icon and telling it to start at login. This is a nifty little tool to have on your machine.

Like a few million others, I, too, whined for about 48 hours about the new scrolling. It works in the opposite direction that we have been used to thus far. Apple calls it "natural scrolling", which is the same as the scrolling you'd find on the iPad or the iPhone or the iPod.

My view is this: touch scrolling is different than scrolling using the mouse. So while natural scrolling works superbly for the touch devices mentioned above, it might be an orientation fail for those using the mouse. The saving grace, though, is that you can go back your kind of natural scrolling by changing the mouse settings. It's a one-click operation, really.

It is a clear indicator, though, that Apple is priming its OS for touchscreen evolution for even its desktops and laptops, just like the iPad or the iPhone. Which is not such a bad thing really considering most devices may go "touch" pretty soon.

Not that the OS is not without its critics. One of the first reviews I read before the launch was on Gizmodo, my favourite tech destination online. This is what they had to say: " �the iPad and the iPhone have been so amazing. They were clean slates that kicked all those conventions to the curb.
The result is a simple, powerful environment. It's awesome. It is the future. Lion is the wrong step into that future. By trying to please everyone, the OS X team has produced an incongruent user interface pastiche that won't satisfy the consumers seeking simplicity nor the professional users in search of OCD control."

There is some merit in that argument, but it is also true that the Lion OS is a vast improvement over the previous Mac OS versions, and it is a stark reminder of why Apple is still one of the top innovation-driven companies around.

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