Archive for March, 2011March 21, 2011
So I had mostly avoided Windows Genuine Advantage because my limited Windows needs were met with Windows XP. I just never saw the reason to upgrade to Vista and put up with all the headaches. But with Windows XP getting long in the tooth, I decided it was time to upgrade. Upgrade licenses for Windows are much cheaper, so it made sense to buy one of those. After all, I have many XP licenses (more than we actually use). A natural fit…or so I thought.
I did a clean install of Windows 7 because nothing transfers over from XP anyway. In the past, this has worked even though I have an upgrade DVD. I would be asked for my older product key at some point in the process and everything would be fine. Oh, if only it were that simple. I have now called three different numbers, the last one being tech support (who didn’t pick up despite supposedly being “open”) and am left with an ominous black screen warning me that I might be a thief.
I am left to wonder, why Microsoft hates me so much. There has never been a stronger argument for DRM punishing honest paying customers than what I have been going through for the past two days. I would have been much better off pirating Windows. I’d have a working system and an OS with more features (I bought the measly Home Premium). I sincerely hope this was the last time I ever give Microsoft any of my money.
Alongside the new (blazing fast) laptops this past week, Apple released the first developer preview of Mac OS X Lion. In addition to the previously announced features, a few new things were revealed. So what do we know?
- Apple seems to be pulling many of the design and usability concepts that have made iOS successful over into desktop Mac OS X. Included in Lion is better support for full screen applications and Aqua, popovers, overlay scrollbars, and multitouch support reminiscent of the iPad interface. Not to mention Launchpad, a new “iPad style” application launcher.
- When Apple discontinued the Xserve, speculation ran wild that Apple was also discontinuing Mac OS X Server. That’s technically correct (the best kind of correct!) but also wrong. Mac OS X Server will now simply be an installable feature of Lion.
- Lion will include built-in support for auto-saving and storing complete version histories of documents. Users will be able to enter a mode similar to Time Machine showing the entire history of a single document.
- Applications will be able to support resuming, letting the software return to exactly the place it was when it was opened last time. This is part of a broader move by Apple to make Mac OS X more iOS-like by eliminating the distinction between applications which are not currently being used and those which the user has Quit. When applications have implemented Resume, it should allow Mac OS X to be more responsive in low-memory situations without asking users to remember to Quit applications they aren’t currently using.
- Mail has a revamped interface, which is (you guessed it!) drawn from the iPad. Ok, yes, there is already a plugin for that. But it will be nice to have official support. Plus, the new Mail will include a conversation view and better search tools. iCal and Address Book have also received an iPad-style makeover.
- By all accounts, Safari in Lion is faster and more stable. If they’ve solved the memory issues, it might again become a viable contender to Chrome. Apple needs to do something here, because Chrome has risen like a rocket while Safari usage has remained fairly low.
- iChat AV is rumored to be including support for Yahoo Messenger video chat.
Lion sounds like great news for small businesses. Buying a copy of OS X Server is a big deal for a small business. At $500 a copy, it’s not cheap. Lots of thought needs to go into the business case for shelling out that kind of money. Lion will immediately change the conversation from “should I use Server?” to “how should I use Server?” But the features I am most excited about are Auto Save and Versions. Two features, but they work so well together that I think of them as one. Time Machine is great, but using it is inefficient and often ineffective. It’s inefficient because I have to leave the application and use the Finder to step through older versions. And it’s often ineffective because Time Machine only runs once an hour. I can do a lot of damage to a document in an hour. A limitless history (via Versions) of every single change I made to a document (via Auto Save, regardless of whether I hit command-S) will be a godsend.
Apple also seems to be making great strides with Lion’s usability. The mantra for iOS has consistently been that users shouldn’t have to concern themselves with the operating system. This was apparent when Apple steadfastly refused to allow multitasking on iOS devices until it could be done right. Users shouldn’t have to fiddle with a process list and kill applications to get good performance. But the truth is, users of Mac OS X do have to pay attention to that today. System running a little slow? Search out some running applications on the dock that you don’t currently need. Mac OS X Lion, with its Resume feature and reworked interface, should eliminate that step entirely. Mac OS X should just work.
Likewise the Auto Save and Versions feature helps eliminate the file system. A user only needs to work with the application and the document. Thinking about “saving” and “backups” takes the user out of that suspension of disbelief and forces a focus on the OS.
Snow Leopard came across primarily as a maintenance release, so it’s nice to see Apple take some big steps with Lion. And while Leopard was famous for its 300+ features, I get the sense that Lion includes more new features that will change how I work everyday. But maybe that’s just because Leopard was released oh so long ago…