Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Apple's Lion OS X for Mac is Coming. Are You Prepared?

Apple's Lion OS X is coming. Are you ready?
In some circles there’s lots of excitement and anticipation about the impending release of Apple’s newest operating system for their Mac computers, Lion OS, with all its nifty features. Since the upgrade is really all about the “processors” that power your Mac, you’ll first need to see if your computer’s operation system has what it needs to handle the upgrade.

While all upgrades can be pretty exciting for the new features they offer, there's a HUGE "but" to this one; Lion will not support software that runs on PowerPC. In English, this means that some of your software will not work; i.e., Microsoft's Office:mac 2004 (that's Word, Excel and PowerPoint to you), Quicken * (older than 2011 update), Eudora, and a long list of other apps that WILL NOT RUN on your computer after Lion OS X is installed. Newer versions of Office and Photoshop will run, but they were expensive upgrades and many people opted out, myself included. SEE QUICKEN UPDATE INFO BELOW...

If you're not sure if this matters to you, included in this article are instructions to learn how to see which software is running on PowerPC. Read on. (UPDATE: A link to a complete list of what will work is below.)

Alternatively, if this doesn't matter to you, continue reading to learn whether or not your computer can handle the upgrade and how to do it once it's released later in July.

It’s really quite simple once you know where to look. Let me walk you through it with this step-by-step guide:

Find out which processor powers your Mac
You need to be sure that your computer is new enough and has the right stuff in its brains to be upgrade-able.

Here’s how you do this:
· Click the Apple logo on the Menu bar (top left of the screen)
· Next, click About this Mac. On this pop up screen you should see the information about the processor and memory that makes up your computer’s brains. But if it doesn’t, see the next step…

· See the More Info… window… click on it.
· This opens a window that says Hardware Overview. On the right side of the page is where you’ll find the information you need:
The third line in this list tells you the Processor Name.

If the information says that your processor is either an Intel Core 2 Duo, Core i3, Core i5, Core i7, or Xeon processors, and you have 2GB’s of memory, then you can run Lion. If your processor name doesn’t match any of these, then Lion is not supported or recommended for your computer, sorry.

If your computer doesn’t have the right processor or enough memory, you don’t need to read any further. If it does, then you need to be sure it has the latest operating system to perform the upgrade. Keep reading…

Find out which operating system you’re running
Next, you need to be sure that you’re working from the latest operation system. This means that you’ve been performing system updates as they’ve been released. Huh?

Okay, let’s walk through this too.

The operating system (OS) you’ll need to perform this upgrade for Mac is Snow Leopard, at least version 10.6.7. This update gave us the Mac Store, the place where you can purchase and download software directly onto your computer. Back in February, when this update was released, I wrote about how to buy software right on your computer: “New Way to Get Software.” This will be crucial to know as this is where you’ll go to purchase the Lion upgrade.

The way to check which OS you have is similar to the first functions you performed.
· Go back to the Apple icon and click on it.
· Right there is should say “Version 10.6.8

If it doesn’t, then you’ll need to perform an update to get to this version. Here’s how:
· Just below the version name it says “Software Update.”
· Click on this. This computer will do its thing to check for updates for your computer.
· If you’re not up to 10.6.8, it will say that there’s new software. Click on it and let it download whatever it says you need. It could take a while, so be patient.
When this operation is complete, you should have what you need to buy Lion whenever it’s released sometime in July.

This last step is also useful for you to maintain updates to your computer, and is a function that you should perform at least once a month. Why? Because Apple, in its infinite wisdom, creates "Security Updates" that give your computer the latest version of virus protection software to keep your data safe. Any questions?

Downloading the Lion
Now that you’re up to date with the version you need, you’ll be able to upgrade to the Lion OS. It will cost $29 (a bargain for all it will do), and will take a couple of hours to download, so be patient.

Here are the steps to download Lion:
· From the dock, launch the App Store by clicking on the icon.
· Locate the Mac OS X Lion Upgrade in the app store and click on Buy Now button (really the $29.99 button).
· Enter your Apple user ID and password.
· The Lion upgrade will download as an app to your Dock.
Once the download is complete, click the upgrade icon to launch the Lion upgrade process and follow all the instructions shown to install Mac OS X Lion onto your Mac. 

Learn which software is running on PowerPC

Now that you know how to use the Apple pull down window to see what’s inside your Mac, go there to browse the Software Applications on the left sidebar. This will show you every app on your computer and the “Kind” column will tell you what they run on. If you click "Kind" it will re-sort them alphabetically, so all of the same kind will appear together. Apps labeled “Universal” or “Intel” are the only ones that will work with Lion OS X. If anything is marked “PowerPC” it will disappear when you perform the upgrade.You won't even be able to "reach down" into old files to read any docs created in those apps. Know this before you leap!

Will patches, bridges, or crossover software be available for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, Quicken and Photoshop? I don't know the answer to this, and no one seems to until the release. As soon as I know the answer, I'll post it; I have a vested interest because I use this software and others so I won't upgrade until I know for sure.

One of the first things you’ll notice about how Lion functions is that there’s a lot you’ll be able to do with scrolling and multi-touch on a trackpad.

You’re familiar with this if you’re working on a Mac laptop. But if you’re using a desk system with a keyboard, then not so much.

But, there’s a solution for you: the Apple Magic TrackPad that works with your desktop Mac via BlueTooth. It sits next to your keyboard and is used with it.

In anticipation of downloading Lion, I encourage you to purchase this wonderful device and learn how to “let your fingers do the clicking, scrolling and swiping.” It’s $69, available at Apple’s store, both the real store and their on-line store, as well as anywhere else on-line or retail stores wherever Apple products are sold. For the link to the Apple on-line store, click HERE.

As with anything new, there will be a learning curve, so give yourself time to figure it out. Also, you can be sure that I’ll be in front of you learning it myself and will post tips and pointers as I become familiar with them.

My Technorati article
I wrote an article, "Fair Warning to Small Business Owners,"  about the impact the upgrade might have on their business. If you'd like to read it, please click HERE.

UPDATE: July 10th
All Mac users should be extremely grateful to Roaring Apps for creating a complete list of all the apps (and their versions) that will work on Lion OS X. For a link to this list, please click HERE.

UPDATE: July 6th, 2011
Quicken has released an official announcement about how upgrading to Lion will affect their products. To read it, please click HERE.

And the official word from Quickbooks directly to me on Twitter is: "Proceed with caution. We're recommending to hold off on the upgrade until we give the go ahead.”

UPDATE: March 9, 2012
Quicken 2005 -2007 update to let your Mac be compatible with Lion OS is finally here, so now all your data will convert. To go to Quicken's upgrade link, please click HERE.

The information contained herein is for guideline purposes only, is not intended as an endorsement of any product, and is no guarantee of the results.

Images courtesy of Apple

Copyright © The B. Hammil Company 2011

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