A Lion with a Vista

Everyday I listen to podcasts during my commute to and from work and while I was listening to some very smart people talk about Mac OS X Lion, I began to think that Lion may be a lot like Windows Vista. A thought I am sure sparks fear in fanboys worldwide, but bear with me because I do see a striking resemblance.

Vista was by all accounts a pretty bad operating system. It was buggy. A lot of Windows apps needed to be re-written or modified to run properly on it. There was no option for a user to ‘upgrade’ to the OS that didn’t involve completely wiping their current data from their machine. It was a huge problem for users upgrading, but by all accounts it was also a necessary evil.

In order for Microsoft to advance the Windows OS platform, they needed to make some major changes to the underlying architecture of Windows itself. All of these changes made Windows 7 possible and Windows 7 by all accounts is a great upgrade for all users — a vast improvement over Vista.

It is in this same respect that I think the forth coming Mac OS 10.7 ‘Lion’ will be the Vista for Mac users. I need to clear up some things before I talk further about this:

  • I am not saying Lion sales will be weak.
  • I am not saying Lion will offer no easy upgrade path.
  • I am not saying Apple is Microsoft.

What I am saying is that Lion, like Vista, is going to be a stepping stone OS update for the Mac OS X platform. Which is a rather long way of saying 10.8 should be awesome.

I think what we should expect to see in Lion is a lot of core iOS technology making its way into the aging desktop OS, along with some of the iOS philosophy. None of these changes are going to bring forth significantly radical OS changes — meaning Apple is not going to remove Finder. What Lion stands to do is to provide a half way point for OS X and where Apple would like to take OS X in the revisions to follow Lion.

That is (and this is just made up and in no way my actual thinking) if Apple wanted to do something dramatic like removing Finder all together — to obscure the file system in the similar manner that iOS does — Lion would see an inkling of that. That inkling might start by changing the Open/Save dialogs so that they list only files that application can open and only saves those files in a targeted location for each app. Thus removing the Finder view that you get when you go to Open or Save a file.

In this scenario Finder would still be present, but Apple would be steering users away from needing to look at the file system. 10.8 would then take this idea and further advance it — perhaps by removing Finder all together, or relegating it to a hidden part for power users (meaning it’s gone from the Dock, or so I can dream).

I don’t see Lion being a crazy mess like Vista was/is, but I do see it as more of a stepping stone update. Apple really wants to bring some of the ideas and technology that they have learned from making iOS to OS X. What they can’t do is spring that on users all at once — that would truly make Lion a Vista mess. The logical thing is to slowly make the transition — much the same as how nicotine patches work to slowly reduce the craving for nicotine (and therefore cigarettes).

Thus, I have proven Lion is going to be like a nicotine patch. 1

  1. In no way did I prove this.
Originally posted for members on: February 3, 2011
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