June 07, 2011, 3:37 PM — Of all the discussions around Apple's upcoming Lion release of OS X coming out of this week's Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, there's one that must have Mac-friendly IT departments everywhere reaching for the antacids and prematurely greying.
Apple's decision to make Lion, Mac OS X 10.7, available only via download from its own Mac App Store has the potential to be a game-changer. With this decision, Apple has taken the OS update--a process that has been a long, complex strategic decision--and made it one click away for every user.
There are certainly compelling arguments for productivity gains in the new operating systems, and Apple is beating the drum for the Mac App Store heavily. But there are also a lot of concerns about what handing over control to Apple's App Store means for businesses.
Whether the App Store distribution plan for Lion earns kudos or results in swarms of angry Macolytes descending on Cupertino with pitchforks and torches depends on how well Apple executes. If Apple gets it right, it could forever change how desktop operating systems are distributed and deployed, and potentially change how IT has to think about operating system upgrades. Done wrong, it could make the black eye Apple suffered over the MobileMe launch look like nothing.
But we won't have those answers until next month, when Snow Leopard users everywhere can hop into the Mac App Store and roll the dice themselves. In the meantime, there's a lot for businesses to consider when it comes to how they want to handle Lion in their environments - if they want to handle Lion in their environments.
Decide On A Policy, and Communicate It
The fact is, if you have users on Snow Leopard today, that sometime next month they will have the option of plunking down $29.99 of their money - or potentially yours--to upgrade to Lion, regardless of how feasible that may be for your business. No consideration involved of the compatibility of applications or processes that your business runs on. Just click, validate, download, upgrade. Delightfully simple for the user. A potential nightmare for IT.