Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Lion vs Snow Leopard in daily use

Despite resolving to be more cautious, I usually end up buying and installing new versions of OS X in the week of their release. Since it was distributed on the Mac App Store, I bought Lion on the day of its release. I installed it on my (ageing 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo) MacBook Pro immediately, but for a chain of reasons I've held off installing it on the Mac Pro. (Specifically, my wife needs to run a pre-historic version of some Windows application, so I have Parallels Desktop on that machine. I haven't purchased the last couple of upgrades to Parallels (they're too frequent and too pricey). Parallels Desktop 4 apparently won't run on Lion. So I need to either find an OS X equivalent of the application, or upgrade Parallels before I install Lion.)

Consequently, I'm running Snow Leopard and Lion on two different machines, and swapping between the two on a daily basis. Some observations:
  • I don't have a strong opinion on the change to scrolling behaviour. If anything, the new behaviour seems more "natural" in some sense—I think it had always struck me as slightly wrong that the metaphor was moving the scrollbar rather than moving the content of the viewport. Having said that, swapping between them regularly is utterly infuriating.
  • There are some even smaller changes that, while far from important or even interesting, serve only to annoy:
    • Mail's Activity window shortcut has changed from Cmd-0 to Opt-Cmd-0. Pointless.
    • There are apparently folders which Finder now doesn't display by default, such as ~/Library. Why?
    • When I take my laptop away from the WiFi LAN at home, it continues to try and connect to the Time Capsule. Ad nauseam. I've dismissed the "unable to connect" dialog five times already this morning.
  • Skeumorphism is out of control. Changing the iCal and Address Book applications to closely resemble their iPad counterparts seems inexplicable to me. Two perfectly decent applications now look like toys.
Obviously Lion has upsides, and you can read about those anywhere. Using Lion and Snow Leopard in parallel has been interesting, though I would argue that the difference is more of a modest jump than a quantum leap.

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