September 5, 2011

∴ OS X Lion: First Impressions

I’m late to the party. The Lion party. But since it took me nearly thirty years to get on the Mac bandwagon, this should surprise no-one.

I installed Lion on my six-month old MacBook Pro, Steve Jobs Edition laptop this morning. I’d been waiting until the first “point release” made its way from Cupertino to the masses, knowing that the first drop of a new operating system is always subject to multiple bug discoveries. Lion was no different.

Last week I downloaded the then-new 10.7.1 release, created a bootable installation disk to upgrade Kelly’s laptop later, and sat on the rest of the task for the following days. This morning I kicked off the upgrade and went out for a run.

The installation was no different that installing any other software, which is refreshing when you consider how much of the platform’s foundation changes during an OS upgrade. It completed without error or complication. On to first notes.

Weird: reversed scrolling. If you use an iPad (or any other touch-interface device), you’re familiar with moving your finger up the screen to scroll lower in a document. Lion works identically, which is exactly the opposite of the way Snow Leopard, Windows and the rest of the OS universe behave. On those platforms you move your finger down the touchpad to scroll lower in a document. It’s taking me a bit of getting used to.

This scrolling behavior is Apple’s way of moving the desktop/laptop OS closer to their tablet offering. Expect more of the same down the road.

I haven’t noticed any odd behavior or crashes from my usual software. The Chrome browser, NetNewsWire and Mars Edit all appear to function correctly. Ditto Microsoft Office.

Lion’s neat new application restore feature re-opens my software applications exactly as they were when I shut down the machine, so a quick re-start brought back everything to where I had left them. Very cool.

I’ll keep playing with Lion to see what else tickles my fancy. A more in-depth examination of the OS, written by John Siracusa for Ars Technica, will serve as my guide.