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SALT LAKE CITY -- The general buzz for Apple’s latest operating system OS X Lion has been fairly positive. Sure, there are a few dissatisfied voices out there, but when compared with the reviews Apple endured after redesigning its flagship video suite Final Cut Pro, the developers from Cupertino, Calif., have to be feeling pretty good about the reception Lion is enjoying.
Recently, the five reasons the big cat deserved a pat on the back were explored. But to simply say Apple hit a home run and call it a day would be a disservice to power users, conservative tech spenders, and the lovably grumpy creatures of habit.
So, as promised, here is a list of five things users won’t love about OS X Lion:
1. Price (at least for older Macs)
Yes, this was the No. 1 reason to love OS X Lion. And, if someone reading this review on any post-2008 MacBook, iMac or Mac mini, they can probably just skip to No. 2 on this list.
However, if one is really wanting to experience Lion on a pre-2008 Mac, he or she going to need some upgrades. Some items will be simple enough to obtain, like the Magic Trackpad ($69) or additional RAM (the minimum 2 GB required to run Lion wasn’t standard in MacBooks until 2008). Throw those items into the cost of the software, and it's already well over $100.
Other hardware however, may be simply unobtainable without buying a new Mac outright. For example, the Broadcom chips needed to display the new Airdrop feature aren’t something that can be swapped out. One tech blogger who noticed the missing feature asked, “Is there some behind the scenes magic that only Broadcom chips support? Or is Apple throwing their customers with older hardware under the bus?”
Whatever the answer, some Apple fans will need to consider additional costs if they want to enjoy Lion the way it was intended.
2. Recovery Disk
Because Apple has released its latest operating system via download, there’s no installation disk to insert when wanting to wipe the hard drive clean and start over. Instead, Lion creates a recovery partition for users during install.
The problem of course, is what happens when the hard drive crashes?
Well, Apple thought of that and recently released the Lion Recovery Disk Assistant.
What does it do?
If users have an external drive they're not using, they can use the recovery assistant to save the Recovery Disk somewhere safe. Only, as Chris Rawson of TUAW pointed out:
“The assistant notes that the external disk will be erased in the process of creating a recovery disk, so if you were hoping to use this solution to create a recovery disk on a drive that's already loaded with other information, you might want to explore other options or find a dedicated drive that you can use instead.”
Maybe the cost of a spare hard drive should be included with item No. 1.
3. Rearranging desktops
There’s no getting around the fact that Mission Control is a cool feature. Users slide four fingers forward and every desktop, window and open application warps in front of them for quick and easy access.
It looks cool, it’s efficient. It’s the kind of useful eye candy Apple gets blue ribbons for year after year.
However, users can’t manually organize your desktops. If they're working on a research paper on desktop three, and their browser with Wikipedia and Sparknotes is on desktop one, why can’t users just slide desktop three over to desktop two for faster access?
Really Apple? None of your testers suggested this?
4: Managing Launchpad
Launchpad is the most obvious iOS crossover feature in Lion. By making a grabbing motion with the user's hand, all of their applications hover over their desktop in exactly the same way they sit on their iPhone or iPad.
It’s definitely pretty, and if users don’t already use Spotlight or Quicksilver to launch their apps, it’s probably faster than accessing their Application stack. At least, that’s the case until they have three pages of applications.
Darrell Etherington of CNN Money hit the nail on the head when he said, “It’s quite a chore to reorganize apps and folders in Launchpad. Just give us a utility that lets users make the same kind of macro-level changes you can make in iTunes and this problem goes away.”
5. Missing scrollbars
There may be a few people out there who love this feature, along with the reverse scrolling option and total lack of autorepeating on the keyboard. However, when a user is in the middle of reading a long article and he or she is used to glancing at the scrollbar to gauge their place, the missing scrollbar sometimes makes them feel like they're in a Vegas casino without a watch.
Arstechnica addressed the issue in its review of Lion when it said, “Most applications included with Lion briefly show the scroll bars for windows that have just appeared on the screen, have just been re-sized, or have just scrolled to a new position (e.g., when showing the next match while searching within a document). This helps soften the blow of the missing information previously provided by always-visible scroll bars, but only a little.”
In the end, Lion isn’t crippled by this short list of gripes. In fact, it’s really tough to find a non-glowing review for the OS X update. But if users patient consumer, and if they found any of the above items a little concerning, they may want to give Apple a few months to release a patch or two before launching the Mac App Store and selecting the “Buy App” button.
If some users are not the patient types however, go ahead and hit it now. The good definitely outweighs the bad.