My Initial Thoughts on OS X Lion

I have successfully installed OS X Lion on both my Mac Pro and my MacBook Pro. I’m not ballsy enough to attempt the server upgrade until this weekend though so my initial thoughts are all going to be related to client software at this point.

The very first thing I want to point out is the fact having reversed scrolling enabled by default is the dumbest fucking thing I’ve ever encountered. Seriously! When I scroll up on a trackpad or mouse I expect the screen to move up, when I scroll down I expect my screen to move down. This is a pretty basic concept that’s been with us for a while now. An operating system isn’t a fucking flight simulator, we don’t need to reverse the controls for moving up or down. Thankfully this can easily be disabled in the preferences but it seems like such an idiotic thing to have enabled by default.

That was by far my biggest annoyance which is to say I haven’t ran into anything that annoying so far. OS X Lion seems pretty stable outside of the box which is a nice change as most initial releases of new OS X versions have been rather buggy, sometimes bordering on unusable. For Lion the installation went off without a hitch and everything seems to be running properly so far.

The whole full-screen mode for applications is a rather pointless gimmick in my book. I have no idea why Apple saw fit to include such a feature in a desktop operating system but it’s optional and thus easily ignored.

I’m not at all happy with the new way virtual desktops are laid out. Previously you could have a grid of virtual desktops which meant accessing one desktop from another could be done quickly. I usually run with six virtual desktops and in Snow Leopard I had them arranged in a grid consisting of two rows and three columns. In Lion virtual desktops are all laid out linearly meaning you only have one row. This makes traversing from desktop one to desktop six a pain in the ass if you’re using keyboard shortcuts. I’ve not found a way to revert the desktop arrangement to a grid yet, nor am I even sure you can. Either way I find this extremely annoying as it really fucks up my workflow.

I have no real opinion on the disappearing scroll bars. I seldom look at or use the scroll bars anymore so the fact that they vanish when you’re not actively scrolling is irrelevant to me.

The new Mail application is light years ahead of Snow Leopard’s version. The layout feels much better and everything seems to move smoother. I also like that the System Preferences has a central panel to add e-mail, calendar, and address book accounts. It was a bit annoying having to open each separate application to add the appropriate account.

The new “natural feel” iCal and Address Book applications are just fine by me. They look a bit out of place but I don’t think they’re as ugly as many have made them out to be. Honestly I rarely interact with either application on my desktop or laptop so this is another thing that doesn’t really affect me.

Launchpad is pretty worthless in my opinion. I’ve been running with a Application folder stack on my dock forever now to launch applications. It’s actually easier for me to click on the stack icon, scroll to the application I want, and launch it than it is for me to launch an application via Launchpad.

Some of the new trackpad and mouse gestures are pretty sweet. I really like the fact that I can now use my trackpad and mouse to scroll, flip between virtual desktops, show my running applications, and many other things. Apple has done a great job realizing the utility of a trackpad with multi-touch capabilities and I hope other computer manufacturers follow in step.

The new interface elements in Lion are pretty as well. It’s a pretty meaningless change but I like the new look.

I’ll keep you guys apprised of my findings but so far I’m liking Lion even though I find most of the new features to be rather pointless gimmicks. It seems solid from the start which is certainly better than previous OS X releases.