May 06, 2011, 11:21 AM — The first thing that came to mind when I heard that Apple may seed OS X 10.7 Lion via the Mac App Store to all users running Snow Leopard: Windows Vista.
The new Apple OS is due out this summer, but the idea of upgrading purely through a digital download does not appeal to me and I think it spells trouble for Apple. Just as Windows users found going from XP to Vista, an upgrade to Lion may be more of a hassle than it's worth.
Sure, developers have been grabbing Lion on the Mac App Store for months now. But there's a big difference between allowing a small group of technically proficient people to do this and opening the process up to the larger public.
Regardless of how solid Apple's download process might be, sometimes you want to use a physical disc to install software. In my opinion, a major operating system upgrade qualifies as one of those times. Here's why.
Smells Like Vista
Some people prefer to wipe their hard drives and do a fresh install instead of dealing with potential software conflicts and other pitfalls during an OS upgrade. But if you have to reinstall Snow Leopard first and then download Lion, the fresh install process becomes a real pain.
Just like Windows users who wanted to wipe their hard drives before upgrading to Vista from XP, it sounds like OS X Lion users will end up tied to a double OS installation.
Now, I admit, I have upgraded many computers running versions of Windows, OS X, and Linux, and I have never run into a problem. Perhaps your experience is the same, but I bet you know someone who has had an OS installation nightmare.
For that reason alone, the idea of upgrading to OS X without a physical disc makes me queasy. If your Internet connection fails or the power goes out in the middle of your installation, it's best to have the new OS on a DVD or USB stick so that you can reboot and try to install again. If not, I guess it's back to the Snow Leopard disc for you and then another run at Lion.
Believe it or not, even on a Mac you may find you want to wipe your hard drive and do a fresh install of OS X as your machine ages. You may find simply find that a fresh install would do it some good.