Operating systems optimize

How Mac OS X Lion will impact businesses using Macs

Erik Eckel explains why he is confident that Mac OS X Lion will be beneficial to business users and highlights some of the new features he thinks will have the most impact.

Apple's Mac OS X Lion operating system, seemingly a simple, subtle upgrade, is actually introducing some significant changes. The changes will prove particularly pronounced within businesses using Macs, improving the way Mac business users leverage email, purchase and maintain software, organize their desktops and even edit files. The reasons are many, some of which have already been reviewed, including how the changes affect network administrators.

The built-in App store leads the list of new features that many underestimate. Users' ability to purchase, track, download, install and update their own applications is changing the way software is designed, programmed, marketed and distributed.

Skeptical? How many iPhone and iPad apps have been sold? There are hundreds of thousands of apps available for those platforms that have been downloaded billions and billions of times. Reports suggest that Microsoft is even working to include its own application store within the next release of its Windows operating system.

That trend will only grow legs with the release of Mac OS X Lion, which includes the App store by default. Now users will find it even easier to shop for, compare and purchase business-specific applications without leaving their Macs.

Intriguingly, Apple reportedly isn't even going to sell the Mac OS X Lion upgrade in stores. Instead, the upgrade will be available for purchase within the App store. That's another way in which businesses are affected. Instead of having to order and install the software, the responsibility can be pushed directly to end users, a constituency that's becoming increasingly comfortable with managing the task.

Slated for July release, and priced at $29.99, business users will experience other important changes with Lion's debut. All told, there are more than 250 new features.

Full Screen apps will provide a more consistent application experience for users becoming accustomed to manipulating software programs on their iPads and iPhones, including such common business programs as Pages, Keynote, Numbers, Documents To Go, OmniGraffle and others. Users wishing to mimic the way their iPhones and iPads organize, display and access applications will be able to leverage Launchpad to simulate the same experience on their Macs.

Mission Control refines Apple's previous customization efforts by consolidating apps, Dashboard, Expose, and Spaces within a single console. As a result, business users can better organize frequently used widgets, applications, desktop configurations, active windows and work areas.

Versioning is going to prove important, too. Along with new the new Resume feature, which more readily supports working on the go or in fits and starts, as is typical for mobile staff, Apple's including an Auto Save feature. On the surface that doesn't sound special. Autosaving features have been available in applications for years. Lion will automatically save your work for you. But the archive information is now saved within the file itself, providing the ability to revert to previous versions (all the way back to the version as it stood when you last opened it) within the file itself.

The new Versions feature takes archiving a step farther and makes a separate copy of the file each time you open it, meaning you have a built in history. Want to revert to the way the file stood earlier than the last time you opened it? Just click the Browse All Versions option. A timeline is even provided to enable easily accessing specific periods of the file's history. Business users will find editing and collaboration easier and safer, as previous versions of files will be created automatically making earlier versions easily accessible should other team members make improper changes, bad edits or other errors necessitating returning to a prior iteration.

Last, another new feature not to be overlooked that's worth $29 alone is Mac Mail improvements. A new widescreen two-column view makes Mac Mail more user friendly by maximizing screen real estate for the most important information (email messages and message contents). A popular feature from newer Outlook versions, called conversations in which email threads are grouped together, debuts in Mac Mail with Lion's release, too, not too mention improved searching thanks to the introduction of dynamic search suggestions. As email's importance only continues to grow within business environments, the new refinements make Lion adoption a no brainer for business users.

About

Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...

16 comments
Gis Bun
Gis Bun

Unless there are specific improvements which makes Lion more compatible with Windows [and others], then there won't be any big difference in how Lion penetrates the enterprise. There are 250+ new features, but how many are business related? I don't think the iPhone & iPad changes [I'm sure part of iTunes and therefore not really a Lion improvement] will make a difference unless [once again] it is business related. Reminder that lion requires 10.6.8 [but I'm sure the retail copies won't include 10.6.8 in the box].

macmadman
macmadman

I work for an agency of state government. There are a LOT of rules we have to follow for purchasing anything, including software. It looks like we will not be able to purchase OS X 10.7 Lion for the Macs we have that could use it, due to the state's purchasing requirements.

fjpoblam
fjpoblam

For business users who overrun the 5G limit, the upgrade for online storage, of course, is at a price. For photo collaboration, enterprise users will still need to learn to use other services to avoid the 30-day retention proviso.

desilvav
desilvav

1. "No that's a bad idea. Somehow end users will manage to mess it up, or forget to do this." 2. "Agreed It's a loss of control and managability. This makes change management impossible." grow up, smell the coffee ... look at what happens when there is central control, except if you are in the centre ...

explodingwalrus
explodingwalrus

"Instead of having to order and install the software, the responsibility can be pushed directly to end users," No that's a bad idea. Somehow end users will manage to mess it up, or forget to do this. Businesses tend to do upgrades from a central location, and do mass updates and network installs. Updating through the App Store will cause unnecessary network usage.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

I can assure you that the App Store will not be the only way for you to purchase and install software on your agency's Macs. However, it may be the easiest way for the network manager to order and distribute those apps.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

Arguments like this is what gives Mac users a bad name. Had you at least explained that such management is eminently possible and has been for over a decade is far more likely to offer a more acceptable rebuttal than, "grow up and smell the coffee."

adornoe
adornoe

is not an effective retort. Why not try to be more informative and elaborate on your points and how their points are wrong or misinformed. Smelling the coffee still doesn't provide answers.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

... the fact that it's just as easy to push those upgrades and manage Macs on a network as it is with Windows? Is it the fact that they simply don't want to know--afraid that the Mac's simplicity may put them out of a job? Really. You guys need to study and know the competition or expect to be removed or replaced when you can't work on it. Thinking that the App Store is the only means of software delivery is blinding yourselves to the truth.

Erik Eckel
Erik Eckel

So many small businesses don't possess in-house IT staffs, so unloading app responsibilities to the end user is actually a trend we're seeing business owners desire (within our consultancy). But, obviously, that method isn't going to prove perfect for everyone. My next blog post will address just this question. Thanks for the comment (it's a great one!).

Max Mertens
Max Mertens

In order to ensure that everyone is up-to-date get's forced to do Updates - you have the Option to run for example CASPER SUITE from JAMFsoftware... There Self-Helpdesk Tool is a great feature to reduce Helpdesk Calls, because you provide Staff with Option to try first with basic Tools themselves. in regards to the Central Push to all -- a Lion mass deployment is possib

spotted_dog
spotted_dog

And how just are corporate users suppose to pay for the upgrade. Most corporations by site licenses or such. Surely Apple doesn't think that each individual corporate user is going to pay $29 and expense it at an individual level. I think more information needs to be forth coming to see how this upgrade will play out at the enterprise level.

Spitfire_Sysop
Spitfire_Sysop

It's a loss of control and managability. This makes change management impossible.

jukka_c2
jukka_c2

Could you please share with us how you can push software and OS X upgrades to Macs?

draymis
draymis

The lack of corporate billing for iTunes accounts - i.e.; the inability to use a PO or invoicing system vs. a CC - makes downloading apps a pain, if not a roadblock to using iOS devices in a corporate setting.

Max Mertens
Max Mertens

with Snow Leopard you were able to buy Snow Leopard Server with unlimited Licenses for $499 - now with Lion you start to pay more as soon as you have more than 16 Macs in use... I have currently about 50 to manage & I am not happy with the Decision to sell Lion per Device. The Site License also was always a good Argument when talking to PC Users or Business Owners who wanted to make the Switch - letting them know that every three or four years they had to spend $500 Bucks only for a new Server Software Upgrade rather than a few thousand with M$...