Normally, when Apple releases a new version of Mac OS X, there is enough new features and performance improvements that most users want to upgrade. Mac OS X Snow Leopard had very few new features, but had significant enough performance improvements and a sweet price tag of $29, which made it an obvious upgrade choice for those who had been using Mac OS X Leopard. But what about the upcoming version of Mac OS X Lion? It's not designed to encourage current Mac OS X users to upgrade, but rather designed to attract potential switchers from Windows to the Mac platform.
There are millions of users of iOS, the software that drives the iPHone, iPad, and iPod touch. These users have become familiar with the sleek interface, the intuitive nature of the software, its ease of use, and its advantages over competition. But for whatever reason, a large percentage of those millions have not made the switch to the Mac platform. This has always baffled me. I have several family and friends who love the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, but refuse to switch to the Mac because they mistakenly think it is too hard to use, doesn't work, or is all too foreign to them. Apple is planning on fixing those hangups with Mac OS X Lion, and I'm not all too happy about it.
As if there weren't enough ways to get to applications in Mac OS X (Stacks, Finder, Spotlight, Command+tab) Apple is introducing another way to get to apps: Launchpad! It looks, feels, and behaves as the list of apps do on the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. They are organized in a grid, just like on the i devices. Launchpad offers no advantages of managing apps that isn't already available in Snow Leopard.
The reason Apple has developed Launchpad is to attract users who are familiar with iOS but have refused to consider switching to the Mac. "See, the Mac isn't as difficult to use as you thought. The apps can move, jiggle and gyrate just like on your iPhone and iPad!"
Apps in Mac OS X have another iOS feature: the ability to run in full screen mode. Meh. Such a feature is nice for mobile devices when you have limited screen real-estate, But with a Mac, there is more than enough room to host multiple apps on the same screen. This is just another feature to give Mac OS X an iOS look and feel that potential switchers are already familiar with.
The act of scrolling, scroll bars, preference tabs, and text in Mac OS X Lion all have an iOS feel to them. Not only that, but there are also some animations, pop-up windows, and status bars that have a Windows 7 look and feel to them, further attracting potential switchers.
Why do I not like this? Because it feels like Apple is starting to design Mac OS X to appeal to Windows users instead of designing it for Mac OS X users. Instead of improving upon what Mac OS X already has to offer, Apple is merely adding pointless eye-candy to attract the typical Windows user. Apple seems to care more about possible users of Mac OS X than they do about current users of Mac OS X. In the case of Launchpad, giving users yet another way to manage apps is just plain stupid. Full screen mode? Who wants their Word document to fill a 27" screen?
iOS is a great operating system, but it is designed for touchscreens on small mobile devices, not for notebooks or desktop computers. Mac OS X is designed for use with a keyboard and mouse, and adding iOS elements is silly.
As a Mac user, I want my family and friends to switch to the Mac platform so they can have a better experience with their computer. But I don't want them lured to the platform because of pointless eye-candy or superfluous features. I'd rather have them switch because of the true advantages of the Mac and Mac OS X.
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