Goodbye Mac, Hello Lion

| Analysis

Apple has been linking “Mac” less with “OS X” lately, but with the introduction of the upcoming version of the operating system, Lion, at this year’s World Wide Developers Conference on Monday, the company seems to be making that separation even clearer. The majority of the company’s references to its Mac operating system are now “OS X Lion” instead of “Mac OS X,” and now even Mac OS X 10.6 is typically called “OS X Snow Leopard.”

Company CEO Steve Jobs told attendees at Monday’s WWDC keynote event that Apple was “demoting” computers to the same level as the iPhone, iPad and iPad touch, meaning that computers are now on par with mobile devices and aren’t needed as tools to support tablets and smartphones. Dropping “Mac” from “OS X” helps reinforce that notion by making the names for Apple’s two primary operating systems looks and sound similar.

It's Mac OS X, now OS X Lion

A quick look at Apple’s Web site shows the company is well on its way to cutting “Mac” out of its OS name. The OS X Web page references “OS X Lion,” and the company’s press announcements refer to “OS X Lion.” Many of the site-wide references still name “Mac OS X,” although that will likely change soon, too. 

Dropping the “Mac” from “Mac OS X” doesn’t, however, mean Apple is planning on phasing out its desktop and laptop computer product line. The company made it very clear during Monday’s WWDC keynote that it is very serious about its computer offerings and the operating system that drives them.

Changes Lion will bring, like Multi-Touch gesture support, Full-Screen applications and Launchboard, which is an iOS-like view for organizing applications on the desktop, show how the company is learning how to make the Mac more efficient by borrowing from its mobile interface. Under the hood, Apple is hard at work improving Mac performance, and making file sharing — something many Mac users need to do — less complex.

Lion also includes auto-save support for the documents you’re working on, a new Versions feature that keeps track of document changes and lets users roll back to earlier file versions, added new Screen Sharing features, added full disk encryption support, and improved accessibility features for visual and hearing impaired users. Those, along with a slew of other new features, show that Apple is focused on Mac features and isn’t planning on abandoning the platform any time soon.

What Mr. Jobs drove home with his WWDC presentation is that Apple sees the role computers play in our lives as changing, and once again the company is moving to where the market will be and not where it was yesterday.

Popular TMO Stories


Lee Dronick

PC Free there may be, but PCs there will be for some time to see; Some things are best done with thee.


It is a little sad to see the Mac downplayed, but I am happy to see that Apple is continuing innovate and take the platform forward in bold ways. 

Did you also notice that there was little to no interaction with the Finder in the Mac demos?  I think the Finder will be be considerably downplayed (or eliminated?) in future OS X releases.



You know, playing down Mac puts more emphasis on the OS X part, which opens up the opportunity for new, utterly non-traditional non-PC devices running OS X the same way that both the iPod Touch, the iPhone and the iPad are widely known to run iOS.


I rarely use finder now on OS X Snow Leopard (or any other previous cat OSes).  I use finder only to go to folders that I know where they are to grab a document.  For actually finding things, I use spotlight.

Harry Gonads

By eliminating “Mac” from the name, it opens up the possibility of OS X running on an entirely new class of Apple computer/device not called a “Mac”.  Or even on an Intel PC perhaps?  Any speculation on that?


I think it’s re-branding just for the sake of re-branding. Remember when it was iPhone OS? Now it’s iOS. No real reason for it, they just renamed it cause they liked the sound better.

This is just another example of Apple’s Marketing team deciding to rechristen an existing product line for no real reason.


I don’t see OSX Lion running on generic hardware. In fact, all the multi-touch gesture stuff seems to indicate a level of hardware integration that may be tough to pull off with a Hackintosh. Although maybe you could buy a Asus netbook and a tragic macpad?


Agree with some of the posters?focus on how an individual interacts with the world thru technology and Apple can call whatever hardware or software by any name.

What I’m waiting to see is if all software will be an App Store purchase ONLY or if you will be able to buy or burn a disk image for backup. We live over the ridge in Vail and only have dial up unless we go to town so, for us it’s important to have “physical” copies of software.

Harry Gonads

Actually, they dropped the “iPhone” and named it “iOS” specifically because it was running on iPod Touch and iPad.  This could be a clear indication of upcoming new product catagory. Apple TV maybe?

Tom Hurley

I agree with Janet?although I have faster Internet access using satellite, I am limited to daily use of 350MB. At night there is a period of 5 hours where I get unlimited access, but I’m not sure I can download all 4 GIGS(!) of Lion in that time. And I hate to lug a 27” iMac to the nearest Starbucks (one hour away) to use their faster connection. Besides, where do I plug it in. Will I have to buy everyone in the store a latt? in exchange? Maybe Apple will make a disk available at an upcharge for us boonies dwellers.

Actually Wrong

Actually, they dropped the ?iPhone? and named it ?iOS? specifically because it was running on iPod Touch and iPad

Actually, iPhone OS was considered the name up until iOS 4 came out last year, and it was running on the iPod touch long before that. The iPad was the only device that didn’t stay up with the others for its first year.


Why would anyone even raise the notion of Apple phasing out Mac OS and the desk/laptop lines?  Exactly what would developers use to write iOS apps then?


I think this means there will never be an OS 11 (or XI), but could we someday be using OS X version 11.0?


Error posting comment .... trying again.


Hmmmm.  Will The Mac Observer be renamed The Observer any time soon?
I guess not before Macworld changes its name.


Could it be that OS X will run on a future retina iPad? Using universal ARM/Intel compilers for Apps?

Log in to comment (TMO, Twitter or Facebook) or Register for a TMO account