My first Mac shipped with Tiger (10.4) installed and it was 18 months before Leopard (10.5) made it’s appearance in 2007. I eagerly queued at the Apple Store in The Trafford Centre for several hours before finally getting my hands on the DVD and rushing home to install it. Prudence dictated it was installed on my MacBook Pro first to assess the fallout in terms of software casualties but the very next day I installed it on my main iMac and Tiger was swiftly consigned to the annals of history.

Move on two years to 2009 and Snow Leopard was launched. Although the venue had changed and was now the Apple Store at Liverpool One the eagerness to get it installed ASAP had not. In fact on this occasion I went one better, I was first through the doors and actually installed it in the store! On returning home I repeated the process and updated my iMac immediately.

So with the launch of Lion much lauded what did I do this time?

Being available exclusively via the Mac App Store meant I was denied the inevitable pleasure of a trip to a physical Apple Store but undeterred I entered into the spirit of the first virtual launch and was downloading within seconds of Lion going live. At 3.8GB the download took a while and then there was the obligatory backup of the Lion installer before I could at last install but install I did.

At this point I should clarify that the installation in progress was on a secondary iMac and not my main machine nor my previous guinea pig, the venerable MacBook Pro.

The install was amazingly fast and after an initial disk scan I was delighted to find the machine running at least equally well as it had under Snow Leopard.

So on to all my other Macs?

In a word, no.

For the first time since moving to the MAC platform in 2006 I haven’t updated my main production machine to the new operating system on the day of release or even within the first month of release, nor do I have any intention of installing Lion on this machine for the foreseeable future.

Why? I hear you cry.

Well it’s not the inconsequential incompatibles that must be expected to abound when upgrading that bother me, it’s the absolute show-stoppers that prevent me completing mission critical jobs that do concern me.

I make extensive use of Apple Remote Desktop to manage multiple machines and while it’s extremely fully featured out of the box I rely on Airfoil to transmit the audio from remote machines to my controlling machine. While the majority of the Airfoil application works on Lion there are a few gotchas that I just don’t want to have to figure in to an existing, perfectly functional, workflow.

I had hope last week that the latest update would solve those outstanding issues but the update was pulled as it conflicts with many other applications but it’s actually working well for me so I haven’t rolled back.

Another audio tool I rely on is AudioHijack Pro, in fact that was the first application I bought for the Mac platform and it continues to be an app I use every day. From the same company as Airfoil the majority of the app is functional with Lion but there are the same gotchas as with Airfoil. I know the Rogue Amoeba team are hard at work ensuring full compatibility but we’re not there yet.

Worse still are the continuing reports of Macs freezing either generally or when playing videos and this seemingly includes the very latest models of iMac.

There is also plenty of anecdotal evidence of Mail problems on Lion, upgrading mailboxes and random crashes.

As expected there are many reported incompatibilities between Lion and the Adobe Creative Suite products as outlined in the Adobe Knowledge Base.

One of the applications I use frequently is Adobe Acrobat Connect to deliver webinars. This has to be one of my most mission critical applications. First, the good news – if it’s already installed it seems to work. The bad news is that on Macs without the Connect Add-in screen sharing component I cannot seem to even force the application on to the system. Sadly a complete show stopper.

But wait … surely I was tempted by the new features?

If I’m honest I don’t see the new features as compelling for a power user. To address a random collection of new features:

iCal and Address Book

For example, iCal’s interface is hideous, only surpassed by the monstrosity that is Address Book. I understood Apple’s need to redesign applications for the iPad and accepted their explanation that a different form factor necessitated a different interface. However, if that’s true then retrofitting an interface designed for a touch screen back to the Mac is completely disingenuous.


One of the most lauded features of Lion, Auto Save, actually appeals the least to me. I’ve been saving my own files for over 20 years so a few more weeks won’t hurt 😉

Launch Pad

Launch Pad appears to be perfect for a touch screen but to someone who is an ingrained LaunchBar power user I really don’t expect to be using it at all.

Mission Control

Mission Control at first glance appears to be the mongrel child of Expose and Spaces and not as controllable as the original version of Spaces. As I use Spaces all the time this is going to take some getting used to.

I’m more tempted by the new Resume feature especially as I usually have so many applications running that rebooting is something I put off until it’s an absolute necessity. It’s not unusual for my machines to have uptime in excess of 2 months!

The prospect of a Mac rebooting and reopening all the apps and documents I had open at shutdown is most appealing.

Strangely the other change that entices me more than I expected is the implementation of smaller scroll bars in the interface, the reduced chrome appeals to my minimalist nature. However, I must add that the draining of the colour from every facet of the interface is not to my taste. It’s an even greater shame that a rapidly increasingly number of third party developers are following suit as they seemingly race to comply with Apple’s stance that any colour other than a pallid grey is not to be entertained.

However, I’m still a hold out. It’s more important that my machine works flawlessly than it is that it has the latest shiny toy on it. I am using my machine not playing with it. So five weeks on I’m happily using Snow Leopard.

I’m not completely ignoring Lion though, in fact I know I will update at some point so in preparation I’ve installed the fantastic ScrollReverser on Snow Leopard to simulate the new natural scrolling in Lion. I’m working on the principle that getting used to that single change alone will make the switch much easier when I do finally install it.

I’d love to hear how you’re getting on with Lion, or not as the case may be.