Mac App Store upgrade: Will OS X Lion be Apple's Vista?

Upgrading purely through a digital download does not appeal to me and may spell trouble for Apple.
  • (PC World (US online))
  • — 07 May, 2011 01:21

The first thing that came to mind when I heard that Apple may seed OS X 10.7 Lion via the Mac App Store to all users running Snow Leopard: Windows Vista.

The new Apple OS is due out this summer, but the idea of upgrading purely through a digital download does not appeal to me and I think it spells trouble for Apple. Just as Windows users found going from XP to Vista, an upgrade to Lion may be more of a hassle than it's worth.

Sure, developers have been grabbing Lion on the Mac App Store for months now. But there's a big difference between allowing a small group of technically proficient people to do this and opening the process up to the larger public.

Regardless of how solid Apple's download process might be, sometimes you want to use a physical disc to install software. In my opinion, a major operating system upgrade qualifies as one of those times. Here's why.

Smells Like Vista

Some people prefer to wipe their hard drives and do a fresh install instead of dealing with potential software conflicts and other pitfalls during an OS upgrade. But if you have to reinstall Snow Leopard first and then download Lion, the fresh install process becomes a real pain.

Just like Windows users who wanted to wipe their hard drives before upgrading to Vista from XP, it sounds like OS X Lion users will end up tied to a double OS installation.

Installs Fail

Now, I admit, I have upgraded many computers running versions of Windows, OS X, and Linux, and I have never run into a problem. Perhaps your experience is the same, but I bet you know someone who has had an OS installation nightmare.

For that reason alone, the idea of upgrading to OS X without a physical disc makes me queasy. If your Internet connection fails or the power goes out in the middle of your installation, it's best to have the new OS on a DVD or USB stick so that you can reboot and try to install again. If not, I guess it's back to the Snow Leopard disc for you and then another run at Lion.

Refresh Yourself

Believe it or not, even on a Mac you may find you want to wipe your hard drive and do a fresh install of OS X as your machine ages. You may find simply find that a fresh install would do it some good.

Or what if you decide to run Windows in a Boot Camp partition after you've had Lion going for a year or two? Chances are to make room for Windows you'll have to either defrag your hard drive (good luck with that on a Mac), or tinker with Disk Utility, or take the easy way out and just reinstall OS X. Without a Lion disc that probably means a double OS installation for you.

Boot Camp

If you want to run Windows using Boot Camp you need specific drivers from Apple before Microsoft's OS will work properly on a Mac. Most of the time you get those drivers through your OS X installation disc, although you can also get them from Apple as a download via Boot Camp Assistant.

But if you have problems downloading Apple's Windows drivers -- as I did when I tested the system this morning -- I guess you're out of luck, unless you have an OS X installation disc.

Look to Linux

If Apple really does seed OS X Lion as a download in the Mac App Store, I hope the company will offer the capability to burn a disc image the way Linux distributions do such as Ubuntu and openSUSE. That way you get the best of both worlds: an OS X Lion download and a physical copy of the OS as a safeguard.

The downside to that approach is you'll have to use Disk Utility to burn your disc, which might scare off the average user. Then again, Apple could create a simple wizard that burns the disc for you and all you have to do is insert the blank storage media when prompted. Maybe that's not as painless as a simple download, but a major OS X upgrade via the Mac App Store could give Apple the lion's share of tech headaches this summer.

Connect with Ian Paul (@ianpaul) and Today@PCWorld on Twitter for the latest tech news and analysis.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Ian Paul

PC World (US online)
Topics: Mac, Apple, desktop pcs, hardware systems
Comments are now closed.

Latest News Articles

Most Popular Articles

Follow Us

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Resources

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Compare & Save

Deals powered by WhistleOut
WhistleOut

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?