Is Apple’s OS X Lion upgrade plan misguided?

First, “a positive: Hardware support for [Apple’s OS X] Lion seems pretty extensive. Just about any Intel-based Mac released since the middle to latter part of 2006, meaning an Intel Core 2 Duo processor or better, will work with Lion,” Gene Steinberg writes for TechNightOwl. “A five-year Window is pretty good for Apple. At the same time, I expect that the $29 upgrade price for Snow Leopard, plus loads of new Macs sold since 10.6 arrived in August of 2009, only leaves a small number of eligible Mac users still using Leopard or Tiger.”

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“However, to upgrade to Lion from Leopard, it’s a double installation at best,” Steinberg writes. “First they have to upgrade to Snow Leopard, and upgrade that initial installation to 10.6.7 (Mac App Store debuted in 10.6.6). The reason is that Lion will only be available via that route. There will be no retail upgrade kits, no DVDs. That’s the price you pay for convenience, assuming downloading a 4GB file is convenient for you.”

Steinberg writes, “Once you’ve running 10.6.7 or later (and there’s a rumor of a 10.6.8 under development as we speak), you can then install Lion. Does this make sense for the company whose products ‘just work?'”

Read more in the full article, in which Steinberg asserts that, “at the very least, Apple ought to consider a combo installer DVD in a retail package at a special price, say $39,” here.

MacDailyNews Take: What do you think? Is Apple’s OS X Lion upgrade plan misguided? Are you running Mac OS X 10.6.7 Snow Leopard? Is a 4GB download a huge or non-issue for you?


  1. Aside from the fact that I have no supported hardware, it would take around 12 hours to download, so I won’t even be following along vicariously.

    1. 12 hours? Are you kidding me? That’s like saying…..for example, “..thank you Steve for offering me a job at Apple, as your own personal advisor on everything, but unfortunately I have to decline because it will take me 12 hours to get to work on my bike”.

      Give me a break!!

          1. Thats an ignorant and very smug response for a very valid point. 1st of all I have a high speed connection (5-7 mb/s) which during the night….when they aren’t throttling my bandwidth, I might actually get close to that. Its still going to take me 3-6 hrs to DL unless Apple can give me my full throughput then maybe knock an hour or two off that. Apple is basically penalizing the people who don’t need a highspeed connection (or can’t get one due to location or finances) to the past (oldschool, legacy) and this person could even have a new mac capable. I think Apple better reverse course on this one.

            1. And is six hours a terrible thing? It’s for a major OS upgrade that’ll happen maybe once every year or two. Kick it off before you go to bed, install Lion in the morning. Still faster than getting a DVD for most people, even if you’re on Amazon Prime…

              Now, I still think a DVD (or USB memory stick, as comes with the MacBook Airs) should be an option, but I can easily see me happily going for the download option, even over my slowish DSL line.

          2. So your point is that if you don’t have a high-speed connection, you shouldn’t own a Mac? What a stupid thing to say.

            Not all of us like living in the city, or even close to the city. Don’t take that as a complaint, it’s not; I chose to live in the boonies, and I knowingly accepted the sacrifices. But your assertion that that somehow disqualifies me from owning a Mac is moronic.

        1. That’s right, @Sucker! I have a hard enough time with the iOS updates, not because I don’t have three or four hours to spare to download them, but because Apple’s servers usually time out long before it’s finished. I have better luck if I wait a few weeks before trying. There’s no way the iCloud stuff is going to work for me. I only have a 3/4 Mb connection.

          1. Wait…

            4 Megabit per second = 0.375 Megabyte per second
            4000 Megabytes / 0.375 MBps = 10666 seconds
            10666 seconds / 3600 seconds (one hour) = 2.9627… hours

            Three hours. Seriously? That’s not 12 hours, nor an unacceptable time.

            1. Sorry to have misled you, @lukeskymac! I didn’t mean 3 to 4 Mb, I meant 3 over 4 Mb. That’s 3 divided by 4 or three quarters or 0.75Mb, which rarely attains that speed and has very poor QoS.

          2. I agree, they make the iOS updates hard enough. This process is made harder by HughesNet’s convent data cap (which is smaller than an iOS update and still very slow.) Lion is impossible. You could download it at an Apple Store, there wi-fi is fast enough to download Lion.

            Also, if Lion is an issue leave feedback at Make them realize that digital only isn’t the way to distribute an OS.

    2. Could you go to a friends house with a faster connection, have him make a temporary admin account for you, open App Store on your account and download Lion, burn to disc or flash, and have your admin account deleted from that computer?

      Just sayin’….
      Just saying’

    3. dude, this is lame. I have let torrents run for a week for stupidly lesser content. Try Linux distros, etc.

      Stop being a baby, and start the download. If you have a laptop, pause it and continue the dl at work.

      Too many people can’t wait for something good.

      Also, why would you need to pay for Snow Leopard to get Lion? I think this is one pirate solution Apple won’t mind you performing. Also, since you can easly make a bootable installer on a USB stick, this is one easy sneaker net to manage. Not everyone lives in a Montana forest; use your friends for once.

      1. The problem with that idea is, from my experience, when you “pause” a download in the app store, it doesn’t pick up where you left off. It starts all over again. Which is weird because that’s not how it works in the iTunes app store. That’s not how it works when downloading a piece of software from Adobe, either. When you pause a download and resume either one of those, it actually picks up where you left off. Not the Mac App store…and not downloads in Safari, either.

    4. I don’t get it. You guys are complaining that some files take hours to download? So what?! Am I not getting something? I mean, it would take me probably a day or two if I had to organize a trip down to the computer store and back to buy a DVD, plus gas and maybe parking. Besides, if you ain’t already on Snow Leopard… well I got nothing to say about that.

      1. How long would it take you to order something online and have it shipped to your house? Is that still a day or two excursion? lol Come to think of it, that would be a good exercise for me. I could start downloading Lion the day it comes out, then order something from the Web, and see which one gets to me faster. How much you wanna bet i’m cuttin open a box while the download window is still going?

    1. Under my previous ADSL service (nominally 3Mbps download, around 2.3 Mbps actual performance), I could download around 1GB per hour. I upgraded to 6 Mbps service (around 5.1 Mbps actual), so I am hopeful of being able to download 4GB Lion in around two hours.

      That said, I would be more than happy to pay extra for a DVD copy at the Apple Store. They don’t have to provide a retail, shrink-wrapped product. Just burn a DVD on demand!

      My opinion is that Apple will include a Lion DVD alternative to downloading by the time that Lion is actually released.

      Steinberg paints a poor picture for upgrading from Leopard to Lion. Frankly, anyone who did not upgrade from Leopard to Snow Leopard for $29 doesn’t deserve a whole lot of sympathy, IMO. But it would be nice if Apple would provide some type of patch to Leopard to enable use of the Mac App Store to obtain Lion.

      Steinberg writes that a “five-year window is pretty good for Apple.” That is a rather backhanded compliment. I would say that going back five years is darn good for any computer manufacturer. Especially since Lion will probably work pretty well on that older hardware. A Core 2 Duo cutoff seems eminently reasonable (especially since I have a 2007 iMac!).

      Has anyone had a positive experience attempting to upgrade a circa 2006 PC with Windows 7?

      1. My opinion is that Apple will include a Lion DVD alternative to downloading by the time that Lion is actually released.

        Not unless they charge a lot more for it. The digital download of Lion, and having it tied to your Apple ID, is why it can be so much cheaper – no more need to overcharge the honest paying folks.

        If they do end up making this concession (either by disc or USB drive), I’m guessing it would cost $129. Kind of like with Aperture, where the Mac App Store version costs way less than buying the disc.

      2. The situation is truly bad for you Americans!

        Here I am in Brazil, a 3rd world country with higher cost internet and lower acquisition power, and even I have a 10Mbps connection!

    2. You sir obviously have no concept of the meaning of “worst”.

      I have clients area would kill for DSL service.

      So to answer the MDN take, this is a bigger than huge download. Maybe ginormpus starts to apply.

      1. I’m a long time Mac user/Apple store peruser, but I didn’t know that.

        However… that still requires you have a laptop. Another condition some people can’t meet. Luckily I can.

  2. For those like me with a 50Mb cable connection, the App Store update from Snow Leopard to Lion will be a breeze …

    But for those still using Tiger or Leopard who have a slow internet connection, upgrading might well be a deal-breaker.

    Maybe for this release, Apple should consider supplying a Combo DVD Installer to get as many users up to speed as possible.

    1. Anyone using Tiger or Leopard are unlikely to be upgrading to Lion, don’tcha think? I mean if they couldn’t be bothered to upgrade to Snow Leopard, then why would they be willing to upgrade to Lion?

      1. That’s an over simplification. You’re denying a whole bunch of people who might want to upgrade. What? Have we reverted to communism in Cupertino now?

        1. Communism? Seriously?

          Oh, I get it… the people with slow internet connections and who didn’t upgrade to Snow Leopard (but suddenly want to upgrade to Lion) are the proletariat.

          I guess those of us with Snow Leopard and decent internet access are the bourgeoisie?

            1. Replying to your reply to BLN…

              “…The failure of these idealist political/economic theories when applied at the macro scale can be attributed to flaws
              in human nature rather than in the theories themselves.”

              So… flawed human being came up with the perfect, ideal socio-economc systems?

              Not likely. The reality is that theory behind these “ideal” systems is inherently flawed because they don’t take so-called “flawed” human nature in to account.

              I dispute the notion that human nature is “flawed”. It is simply human nature. Saying it is flawed reveals a lot of presumptions on the part of those who use it.

              FWIW, my antipathy towards socialism/communism isn’t because I consider them evil.

              It’s because I consider them stupid.

          1. No. Communism is supporting the one view you have of the world, against all logic, thinking that the one view is the only correct view and no alternatives exist.

            1. You do know that’s not really what communism is, right?

              But… using your “definition”, does that make you a communist? Since you seem to think that your view of Apple’s chosen distribution method is the only correct view?

              If everyone based their decisions on trying to accommodate 100% of everyone, then nothing would ever change from the status quo…

            2. I was attempting to make a joke. It didn’t work…

              Sorry, BLN, but your vague description applies to many political, social, and religious doctrines and does not really provide any useful information regarding communism.

              Regardless of how you feel about communism, socialism, etc., those terms have *specific* meanings which appear to be lost to the general public. What intrigues me is the hatred that is spawned in the U.S by these terms. The failure of these idealist political/economic theories when applied at the macro scale can be attributed to flaws
              in human nature rather than in the theories themselves.

              From the Mac OS X dictionary app:

              Communism: A political theory derived from Karl Marx, advocating class war and leading to a society in which all property is publicly owned and each person works and is paid according to their abilities and needs.

              Socialism: A political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.
              • policy or practice based on this theory.
              • (in Marxist theory) a transitional social state between the overthrow of capitalism and the realization of communism.

            3. No. I didn’t say that Apple’s view was incorrect but I argued for choice – either Mac App Store or installation disc. Removal of choice is the essence of communism and having one view that only the Mac App Store is the correct avenue to install Lion despite the availability of cheap alternatives is communism at its height.

            4. @Ballmer’s Left Nut

              Are you an American by any chance? Because You’re confusing communism with fascism. Americans seem to do that alot.

              Anyway, Apple isn’t denying Tiger and Leopard users from upgrading to Lion. They just have to install Snow Leopard as an extra step(or Leopard -> Snow Leopard). What they are doing, though, is denying people with PPC Macs and dial-up connections from upgrading to Lion.

            5. What you have just described is a Rube Goldberg way of upgrading to Lion. Why go through all the unnecessary steps when the solution lies in plain sight – offer Lion as an installation disc. Whether it’s known as communism or fascism, all forms of totalitarian government are bad by virtue of absence of choice, reasonable though that may be.

      2. This is true. 2008 MacBook running Leopard. I don’t like upgrading old macs. Tiger was great on my 04 iMac. It died with Leopard on it (not that Leopard caused it).
        No, this lazy guy will be purchasing a new MacBook Pro and iPhone 5 to enjoy Lion and the like. Patience is a virtue 😉

          1. Oh yeah, that is a worthy replacement. I had the same G4 and sold it, thinking that a Mac Book Pro would take its place. But then along came the iPad…and now the iPad2. But I bought my wife an MBA 13 to replace her Dell laptop, which I immediately sawed in half. Can you say “hero”? She loves it.
            On the matter of the Lion upgrade, surely there will be alternatives for those with slow or no Internet. I’ve been there: my former highly compromised DSL was so slow that at times it was barely faster than dialup. Cost me $2,000 and a ton of work with a trencher to upgrade to vastly faster cable. I hate to see equipment become obsolete — which is why my backhoe is from 1975 — but I have reluctantly made my peace with the advance of Apple technology. Beg, borrow or steal to upgrade. It will be worth it. Uncle Steve will see to that.

      1. PowerBook G4 it was. Sweet little laptop, but you could fry an egg on the underside. Cooked the mobo on mine the day I bought it from a buddy. He bought a replacement used board for me. Whew.

    1. Uh… Last I checked Snow Leopard REQUIRES an Intel Mac, which an iBook G4 certainly is not. Leopard is the highest level of big cat OS that computer can use.

  3. i can understand what he means. But i don’t think it’s misguided by any means.

    Only real issue is, can I go to the Apple Store and get it on a thumb drive? I only have dial up.

    To me, that is the real drawback. Many people are on a slow internet access. I would hope Apple does allow use of thumb drives and going to the Apple Store to acquire it.

  4. Not an issue. If you are running a top machine, more likely than not, you have at least a cable connection to the net. If not, let it download while at work or at night. Non issue.

  5. I think it is fine to make Lion available as a download from the App Store but it should also be available a DVD for a small extra charge. MANY of those who live in rural areas in this country only have satellite internet, or even just a phone line and modem. A 4 Gb download will take an eternity for them. And some of those with faster internet access face the problem of using up a significant proportion of their monthly download capacity. And things like internet cafes and Apple stores can be a long ways away in rural areas. In northern Maine, where I summer, there is no cable, nor will there be in the foreseeable future, and the nearest Apple Store is 200 miles away. They are even further in parts of the West. Bottom line: an internet download is a good idea but not if it’s the only option. This country isn’t yet sufficiently wired.

    1. “….a phone line and modem. A 4 Gb download will take an eternity for them.”
      Not only that. For the large number of people still using dial-up, chances are they have no chance at all of successfully downloading something that large. Rural lines are, standardly, FAR too “dirty” to keep a connection for that long, or to reconnect reliably. Whatever back and forth error checking happens on such a large download is not going to work on such dirty connections, either. I used to do my work from such a rural area. My limit for downloads was massively smaller than 4GB due to this connection factor.

  6. Misguided? How about brain dead. Where were all the thinkers that should have jumped on stage and stopped Steve from pronouncing Lion to be Mac App Store only.

    I foresee this will be another painful reversal by Apple similar to the retraction they had to do over the in-app purchase for online publications.

    What about people who prefer physical media like a lot of older folks? How do you get them to subscribe to high speed Internet just to download Lion? It doesn’t make sense and Apple should recant.

      1. The last time I used a DVD drive on my Mac was to install Windows 7 in Boot Camp. I would have used it to install iWork but for the fact that I ordered it as a bundle. Using a DVD drive that’s available on my Mac to install Lion is a smart use of a resource. Denying the use of it is brain dead.

      2. I bought my most recent MacBook about a year ago. It has a built-in DVD drive, but I don’t know if it is working or not; I never used it yet.

        I have plenty of software on my MacBook, as well as data. I can’t seem to find a use for that built-in DVD drive, though.

        1. It’s not a valid proposition to extrapolate your use case as a template for the other 60 million Mac users. Just because you can’t find any use for your DVD drive doesn’t mean it can’t be used to install Lion.

      3. This logic is flawed. Yes, research went into it, but to not even *offer* a simple physical disc for the general populace in case of an emergency is stupid. Remember the bulk of people commenting here are experienced, tech savvy mac users– but that’s not who Apple is trying to win over. Your average Joe should have access to a disc – even if it’s the only one he ever uses.

      4. I last used the DVD drive to rip a CD a couple of weeks ago. There is no iTunes music store in Singapore. Boo-hoo for me, so I have to use physical media. So please don’t extrapolate your non-use of the DVD burner to all Mac users in the world.

    1. How about your rabid introverted ranting and misapplication of superlatives reduced to the proportional scope of hoping for re-consideration, which is a far cry from ‘painful reversal’ or ‘recanting’?

      1. I don’t see a need to use any other phraseology other than recanting because that is exactly what a reversal is, which will happen soon enough if enough voices are raised against this insanity.

          1. In what sense is calling out an obvious error pompous? You don’t agree with my views, that’s fine. It’s not as if an installation disc is beyond the reach of Apple.

          2. They have been known to reverse decisions based on a lot of user input, though. The action of the green light button in itunes is just one small example.

      1. What I meant to say in a roundabout way was that Steve should have consulted the people on the ground whether making Lion as a Mac App Store exclusive made sense. He’s probably too insulated from the problems an average person faces downloading large chunks of software and an OS to boot. We don’t all have GB Internet access like what the Apple campus has.

    2. Not all people who like a physical backup are old. In April, we were hit with multiple waves of severe weather that included a tornado that passed right over our street.
      Almost 48 hours of no internet, power, phone, etc. ensued. My trusty laptop with local files on the HD was packed with movies & TV shows- which helped a lot. If it was a cloud- based service like Netflix or Amazon I would have been SOL.
      I’ll take a DVD any day over a download on CONcast any day.

      1. I retract my ageist comment. I only used it for illustrative purposes. It was not meant as a universal put down. What I meant was generally people don’t trust downloads to upgrade their OS and prefer a physical disc instead.

    3. That’s exactly what Apple did. Sat around the ol’ board room and thought up the best way to screw people with slow internet connections.

      Pitiful. Instant gratification can’t be yours so off to whinerville you go. “No you can’t have another cookie”. Waaaaaaaaaa!!!!!

      Take a break. Go outside and introduce yourself to sunlight. Find a girl and show her your “purpose”. Dolts

  7. Apple does have brick and mortar stores, so it does not seem logical to not have their OS available for purchase in them.

    Most people who purchase Lion with take the extra step of creating a bootable disc or thumb drive of it.

    Apple just make it purchasable in your retail stores.

  8. I think it’s a good plan. DVD’s should be available for those individuals stuck in BFE and nothing but dial up or DSL. That said, I’m excited to try out this new route of OS updating. It’d be cool if my Airport Extreme could house the OS upgrade so it won’t be a 4GB download for each of my authorized Macs.

  9. My guess is that this will be a non issue. There will most likely be a way to create a DVD from an ISO or procure a USB install stick from Apple. There are only so many details they give out at an event and they are probably working on alternative for those situations where lack of broadband is an issue. Maybe you can walk in to an Apple store with an empty USB drive, pay your $$$ and have them make the bootable drive on the spot for example.

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