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'Lion' brings iPad gestures to Mac OS for only $30

New version of Mac OS X will be sold through Mac App Store starting in July

By , Network World
June 06, 2011 03:24 PM ET
Mac OS X Lion

Network World - Apple Monday previewed Lion, the next major version of Mac OS X, which will feature iPad-like multi-touch gestures and be sold for $29.99 on the Mac App Store.

The low price is the same as Apple charged for Snow Leopard, the current version, but Apple had charged $129 for most previous major releases of Mac OS X. The big difference this time is it will be sold through the Mac App Store as a 4GB download, rather than on a disc.

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The distribution method raises a few questions. How will users who never upgraded to Snow Leopard, and therefore don't have access to the Mac App Store, download the new operating system? What about people with slow Internet connections? Will there be a convenient way to create bootable USB drives or discs for people who prefer a physical copy of their OS?

For businesses that deploy Macs, there is another issue. Typically, users purchase software through the App Store with their personal credit cards. One of our own IT guys at IDG is wondering how businesses that buy in bulk for employees will handle the purchase process.

The latest developer preview of Lion, which is Mac OS X version 10.7, is out today and will be generally available to consumers in July. Another major change this time around is that Apple is making Lion Server a part of the desktop operating system, potentially bringing server capabilities to the masses.

That's something you may never see from Microsoft, which makes tons of money selling separate Windows desktop and server editions, and just shared a preview of Windows 8.

While Apple says "Lion Server is now part of Mac OS X Lion," it's still possible that the server capabilities will cost extra. Some reports have the Lion Server OS being priced as a $49.99 add-on. In any case, it certainly won't cost $500, as the Snow Leopard Server does.

There was no live video of today's Apple keynote, which featured Steve Jobs and other executives, so I relied mainly on the Macworld live blog from the event for real-time information.

As far as I can tell, Apple didn't mention anything about security, even though Macs are starting to experience some of the same problems that plague Windows computers.

But the new features in Mac OS X look pretty enticing. We already knew much about what would be included in Lion as a result of a preview given several months back, but today's presentation went into more detail.

You won't be able to manipulate your Mac by touching the screen, but the same multi-touch gestures that power the iPad will be incorporated into the Mac Trackpad.

Scroll bars will become unnecessary for users who embrace the new gestures, such as tap-to-zoom, and two-finger swiping to move back and forward in the browser.

Lion will make greater use of full-screen applications but also add a "Mission Control" feature that helps users keep running applications organized and move quickly from one to the other.

The multi-tasking in Lion is actually more similar to that provided by Android tablets and the BlackBerry Playbook than the iPad, the current version of which prevents you from viewing more than one application at once.

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