Apple's Lion Is a Resource and Security Nightmare

As the Mac starts to make inroads back into the enterprise, Apple faces a major problem -- one that roars like a Lion. Its current operating system is a disaster from an IT management perspective.

By Mark Everett Hall
Thu, March 08, 2012

CIO — The Mac is back in the enterprise. Last year sales of Apple's flagship computer to business jumped substantially, growing 44 percent compared in Q3 with a paltry 5.3 percent increase for Windows machines, according to Needham & Co. Yet, its current operating system, known as Lion, is a disaster from a CIO's perspective.

Most IT departments wisely wait before unleashing an operating system upgrade on their companies. In Lion's case, it would be wiser to leave it alone entirely. It's already been through numerous updates, now shipping as OS X 7.2.3. And the company already has announced its successor, Mountain Lion, likely to be called OS X 8. But, if Apple doesn't address some serious problems in Lion, it will be a nightmare for IT. Here's why.

Once deployed, Lion's current features likely will cause a spike in pricey help desk calls, increase security risks, and cause no end of user frustrations--all of which will burden the IT department. For those companies who were using the previous Apple OS, known as Snow Leopard, and have upgraded, the problems will be the most acute because the gratuitous changes made to the software will confuse users and undoubtedly hurt their productivity.

Lost in Spaces

Let's start with the wonderful tool called Spaces. Introduced years ago as an option, it lets users create multiple Desktop views, or Spaces, where they could set up task-specific work environments from their System Preferences. For example, you could configure the number of Spaces you wanted--maybe one for collaboration apps, one for business-sensitive documents, another for games, and so on. It was a great enhancement.

In Lion, Spaces come out of the box set at three, instead of allowing a user or System Administrator to set them up. Worse, they're fixed so you cannot manage them from Systems Preferences. You need to alter them by hovering over a given Space. However, because you can no longer manage them from Systems Preferences, unless you have a Track Pad, a three-button mouse, or know the launch-key combination, you're stuck with three.

Dangerous Systems Preferences

In and of itself, that might not be more than a time-wasting IT problem when users, trained for years to using Systems Preferences, call the help desk asking how to manage them. However, combined with another inexplicable change, it increases an enterprise's security risks.

When you shut down a modern desktop computer users see a window telling then that their computer will shut down in XX seconds. Most people then hit return to make the shutdown immediate. But with Lion there's an added small button that is permanently clicked on and tells you that all of your currently opened applications, including those running in all of your Spaces, will launch again when you next turn the computer on.

Continue Reading

Our Commenting Policies