Well, I was one of those who downloaded Mac OS X Lion the day it was released.  I’ve been using it ever since on a Mac Pro with a 27 inch Apple Cinema Display and on a 2010 MacBook Air mainly hooked to a 24 inch Apple Cinema Display.  I am using Lion no more.  After weeks of mixed feelings, I wiped Lion off both machines and reloaded Snow Leopard, even though it cost me almost a full day of work.  I’m much happier now.  My world is at peace, and my computers are operating like computers instead of schitzo machines that can’t figure out what they are.

I realize this bodes poorly for me.  I am now probably committed to no more operating system upgrades until I’m forced into it by buying new hardware.  But I’ll make do.  At least all the software and hardware I currently own works and I don’t find applications opening up pages I’m through working on (Yes, I had turned that feature off in System Preferences and still found it happening).

Here’s why I went back to Snow Leopard and intend to stay there.

(1) Lion ruined Dashboard’s implementation. I’ve always really enjoyed having a few widgets that I could pop up and quickly reference without moving from the tasks I was working on.  With Lion, when you call Dashboard, your entire desktop vanishes and you are taken to a new screen, as if my 16GB Mac Pro can’t handle popping the widgets up anymore.  In the world of iOS, widgets really don’t exist and don’t need to; they are simply other apps.  In OS X, widgets provide handy little functions like a calculator that saves me from having to hunt it down in Applications or pulling out a real one to use on my desk. Lion’s driving me to a new screen was distracting.  I might have well have just called up a calculator from my apps using Launchpad, if I hadn’t also found it totally useless.

(2) Launchpad is useless on a machine with lots of applications. On an iPad, it makes sense and doesn’t prove annoying to have to swipe to another screen to pick up an app that is stored there.  On a computer with a 27 inch screen, it is worse than annoying not to be able to reference all my Applications on a single screen.  Launchpad’s inflexible implementation yields no way to manipulate the size of the application icons, so my applications were spread out over three screens!  I could have partially reconciled that by moving applications into Folders, but then what have I gained over using OS X’s Application Folder and Dock by doing that?  Nothing!  The only way Launchpad made any sense was if it provided single-click access to all my applications. Including an application that provides only large-icon-eye-candy and doesn’t increase my productivity makes me wonder what the hell Apple is thinking.  It appears they think that moving to iOS functionality on a desktop computer is a good thing and it just ain’t true in all cases.

(3) The Swipe functions are nice but just another way to turn the page. I appreciate the intuitiveness of the various finger gestures used in iOS.  I have Apple Trackpads co-located with mice on both my machines and used the swipes offered as routinely as I could.  Frankly, though, they didn’t really save me time over using a mouse, though I admit that may be partially due to the fact I’m just more used to a mouse. If my computer displays were touch screens, then I might feel like the use of finger gestures was a lot more important than I do.  For now, household and small business computing is not likely to incorporate touch screen computing as a routine function for at least a decade, and this is an area where Apple is ahead of the game but runs the risk of leaping too far and disconnecting itself from its users.

(4) Mission Control is nice but not necessary. Mission Control (as and ex-shuttle guy, I appreciate what appears to the space program “nod”) is really Expose reinvented.  I was fine with Expose as it was and still need to learn to use Spaces effectively, so I’m probably not the best guy to evaluate this feature.  Still, Apple used this as a major selling point of Lion.  To me, it just wasn’t that compelling.

(5) Running a dual boot with Snow Leopard didn’t prove to be as clean as I had hoped. I had some Rosetta powered applications I didn’t want to replace, so I initially set up a dual-boot Snow Leopard/Lion system.  To avoid having to manage two different user accounts and desktop environments, after I set up Lion on the Mac Pro’s SSD, I forced the SSD over to the User account on the Snow Leopard hard disk.  For the most part, I could freely boot back and forth and the applications on each OS would work but there were some that choked on this set-up.  My computing life simply was more manageable if I consolidated to one OS, so I decided that moving back to Snow Leopard was the thing to do.  Additionally, on my MacBook Air, Lion had killed a USB Gigabit Ethernet adapter I got back by going back to Snow Leopard.  That’s a small thing, but it simply made me feel better about not throwing away my investment in hardware due to an OS upgrade.  That also holds for not losing access to the applications that needed Rosetta.  In this economy, replacing hardware or software “just because” is not something I need to do.

The bottom line for me was that Lion simply didn’t yield enough gain to overcome the losses it was introducing.

Yes, at some point the tablet may become the main computer of the future.  But that’s not today.  Introducing tablet technology for its own sake holds out perilous risks for Apple if they wish to hold onto their computer-based audience. They may not.  They are going to go, after all, where the money is.  It may not be in the PC market.