Lion download too fat? There’s Apple store (WiFi) for that.

42 Comments

Mission Control OS X LionAt WWDC (s aapl) this year, Apple announced that OS X Lion, its next major operating system update, would be available only through digital distribution. But a download-only OS upgrade of 4 GB is going to be trying for some consumers, either because of the quality and speed of their internet connection, or because of bandwidth caps that limit how much you can download in a month.

Apple wants to alleviate some of those issues, by suggesting that users should bring their Macs in to their local Apple Store (via Computerworld), and use the free Wi-Fi connection provided by the store to download the update. That Apple, a company known for wanting to make thing easy for consumers is suggesting such a clunky solution, suggests that it’s well aware of the broadband problems facing a subset of the population and it can’t afford to ignore them.

Obviously, this solution really only works for users with portable Macs, since lugging a 27-inch iMac down to your local mall may be a tad inconvenient, but it still might be the best option for some Mac owners come July, when Lion is set to be officially released to the public.

It may even be worth the inconvenience to some. If you’re stuck in a remote area, your connection might be spotty at best, and probably doesn’t offer blazing speeds. The Lion download from the App Store is designed to be stopped and started as much as needed in order to get the job done, but OS buyers aren’t going to want to take a few days over the course of a week to get their hands on their purchase.

Even if you have a solid connection, limited bandwidth plans might affect your ability to get Lion. The system update download is 4 GB, which is actually fairly small, considering that it holds an entire operating system. But 4 GB represents a significant chunk of some throttled home internet plans. Rogers in Canada, for instance, offers an entry-level Ultra-Lite internet plan that only allows for 2 GB of monthly usage, so you would technically have to wait two months to complete the Lion download without incurring overage charges. Even the next step up only gets you 15 GB, so Lion represents a full quarter of your monthly allowance with that plan.

Volume customers like businesses and colleges will get an installer via single download that they can then use on multiple computers, but for consumers, the only upgrade path seems to be purchasing through the Mac App Store. That means you can buy it once and have it available to all your machines, but you may have to download it to each in order to get it to work. Apple could make the downloaded file transferrable via flash drive or local network connection machine-to-machine to make it easier for customers to upgrade multiple computers without using more bandwidth, but it’s not clear whether the company plans to do that yet.

Does the prospect of a mandatory 4 GB download affect your decision to upgrade to OS X Lion, or is this just a marginal problem affecting a few fringe customers?

42 Comments

J. Gary Ellison

I live in Vanuatu where the super slow speed of 256mb costs me $175 a month. Downloading 4GB is unthinkable. Will it not be made available on disk?

jabber

Personally, I’m glad that Apple is doing away with discs. I remember when they did away with the floppy drive and telling people that floppies and discs will be obsolete one day. That comment was greeted with looks like I had just told people that a UFO landed on the lawn of the White House.

Yes, downloading Lion is a big issue, considering how many new users there are and Apple will most likely try to find a way to help, without making people drive to the Apple Store. In the 90’s, with the issues with Rhapsody, Apple told people to more or less “deal with it”, that is, until the Mac user groups put pressure on them. I think that many people aren’t familiar enough with the workings of the computers to be able to understand what they should do – if you can download it, do so it and back it up. If you can’t download it, call Apple and work with them to resolve the problem. I spoke with an Apple Tech in Cupertino this morning and he said that “something is in the works”. He didn’t allude to when or what, just that it’s being worked on. If you’re having major issues and need to get it badly, check your torrent sites. It’s already on there.

Me, I’m going home tonight, downloading this file and bringing it in Monday on a flash drive for the 15 other Macs at work.

bArt

Get with the program people! Only when our love becomes unconditional can our gracious leader sell us all those things we don’t know we want yet! Look Apple offer you the new shiny OS and you BYO data for Apple to store in the cloud! This is synergy folks.

Donovan

This is a bad, bad, bad idea. Many who live with download caps, people who live in rural locations and even users who spend part of their time abroad do not have the ability to download 4gb of data. We have four macs in our household, each with their own Apple ID. This is a logistical nightmare.

I really hope that there is an outcry in proportion to what I think the challenge is with this and that Apple has a rethink about this strategy.

Kathy Sierra

Add me to the list of those who own a houseful of Macs but in an area with NO high-speed Internet. There is an Apple store about 40 miles away, but I cannot imagine hauling my new iMac there. We have the most expensive bandwidth option our rural satellite provider allows, and it is still a 500mb daily cap. And if you exceed it, you are sent to dial-up speed hell for 24 hours. One need not be in the middle of nowhere to have bandwidth limitations… I live within commuting distance of Apple’s home in Cupertino. All it takes is to be ever so slightly rural. Like, five minutes outside the city in the hills. We DID have another option, but then a tree on a distant neighbor’s property grew too tall and our antenna became useless.

Wierdninja

This is where The Cloud shows its biggest weakness. Apple really made this stupid. We don’t want you to have to go to a store to buy boxed software, but, come in to an Apple Store to download Lion. Tell me this is not dopey as hell. This might kill computer sales for Apple. I’ll stick to Snow Leopard and let Apple figure out that The Cloud is still many years away because of greedy ISP’s that have expensive , capped plans. Looks like Final Cut Pro X will be a fail, too, in my view. The inroads they made into market share in the PC market, they may have just given back to Microsoft. These moves that they have been making lately seem very microsoft-like. Badly thought out.

Arun

Ideally, it would have been good if they had given both options. $29.99 via app store & $34.99 on a DVD + shipping. Let users choose what they want.

R3d6

@mike
I guess you live in an urban area with a good broadband feed and belong to the thoughtless “I’m all right jack so frig the rest of the world” crowd!
What a selfish arsehole you are!

Ferix

Formatting your Mac or Apple to me, it means you are losing everything on it and begin a brand new start. That’s if you never backed up your files or whatever crucial thing it could. Well, am not so sure if am talking things that are not in line with this article? But the whole thing to me is backup. Am glad I do backup at SafeCopy Backup, they offered me free 5gb account for life when I joined their Facebook page and followed them on twitter as well.

bcarter

I think it should be available for purchase through the App Store, but not manditory. There are too many variables, and too many good reasons not to make this a digital-only upgrade. Dumb move Apple!

Bill Oderhadem

This is terribly shortsighted by Apple. I don’t know if they don’t bother testing the speed of their free network, but when you have scores of iDevices running at the same time the network slows to a crawl. Add to that several people downloading a multi-gigabyte file at the same time and it will be impossible to do. If they wanted to have customers come to the store, they should have gigabit ethernet cables for them to use. That way they’d have the fastest possible connection, and they wouldn’t jam up the wifi for people playing on the iPads. Only time will tell if they see the light.

Justin Noel

Can you imagine the Microsoft (or Google) ads for this?

“Some companies make you lug your computer to a mall just to install an upgrade.” Then, they show video of schmucks lugging their computers to the Banana Store. Some kid rolls his iBanana to the mall in a Little Red Wagon.

What a field day. This is REALLY stupid on Apple’s part. Give us discs plz.

Matt

Hey hey hey! I’m pretty sure I read there is an easy way to turn the downloaded OS inti a bootable disk straight from the package.

Once you do that, stick your disk in your other 1237373 Mac’s and you’re sweet – hell, download it for your parents and mail it to them on a disk if they are in a rural area with terrible internet.

jsk

Using WiFi at my local Apple store to download 4GB is kinda funny to me. The service is so bad at my local Apple store that downloading it myself there would actually be faster than attempting to purchase a disk in the store.

Kyle

ISP’s are screwing us all. If we can’t even download a 4GB upgrade. The capping needs to stop! This is just getting sad.

Roger

My parents live in the middle of nowhere and are hundreds of miles from an Apple store. They are so remote that the only internet is via satellite, which has a 300MB/day limit. I have no idea how I’m ever going to get them updated.

This is a stupid policy. Hopefully they will release a USB version. Hell, I want that for when I have to reinstall. What are they thinking. Arrogance is right.

lorro

surely if you can afford an imac, you can afford a decent internet service?

I am from the UK, where we have throttling more than caps, so i’d just have to download the update slowly, rather than over consecutive months!

Ed

I don’t know about the UK, but in the USA there are millions of people who don’t have access to hi speed internet simply because it is not available where they live. Most of them are hundreds of miles from an apple store. The county in which I live is the size of the state of Delaware and has 19000 inhabitants and my home is 125 miles from the nearest Apple store.

Ed

This is BS.
I’m 125 miles from the nearest Apple store and I have 3 macs, 1 Mac book 1 iMac and 1 Mac pro. !am not driving 250 miles because Uncle Steve wants to promote the APP store. In any event,I’m not about to Haul the iMac and the Mac pro anywhere. Apple no longer gives a damn about its users–only about making money in the App store. I guess those in my situation will have to find another OS that will run on our Macs. The way I feel right now about this crap, If I bought a new mac with Lion I’d wipe the hard drive and install Snow Leopard.

ryan

agreed. when i update my macbook pro with the next refresh, im fresh installing snow lepoard and final cut 7. im tired of the dumbing down to make everything like iOS. lion & fcx = fail in my book.

S

– Approx 2 Mil Macs per quarter were sold for last 2 years = 8 Mil Macs
– say 50% of them will upgrade.
– 4 Mil Macs to upgrade
– 4*10^6 * 4GB = 4PB. That is lot of bytes to download.
– This would be over a period of time
– Even if 0.1 % people upgrade every day , we would be pumping 4TB of data apart from regular traffic

Would it be historic enuff ?
How does it affect our regular traffic

Hank-Z

Apple is Dumb not making it available on a DVD. I know many New MACs do not have DVDs. And yes – Installing Lion on a NEW Disc is a real problem also as
Howie points out.

Stephen Moye

Agreed: Apple’s decision about installing Lion is both arrogant and insensitive. I have seen estimates of the number of people still on dial-up and it was enormous. For those in that situation, but who are lucky enough to live relatively near an Apple store, I don’t see why they should not make an appointment with an Apple Genius and, armed with a blank DVD, log in to the App Store and download the installer. Two options present themselves: copy the installer app onto the DVD, or find the disk image of the installer (which lurks in the app bundle) and burn a DVD from that. All this assumes that Apple will not forbid that possibility. In any event, I’m pretty sure that Apple will have to supply Lion install disks at some point.

Mike Perry

You note: “That Apple, a company known for wanting to make thing easy for consumers is suggesting such a clunky solution…”

I’ve been in and out of the corporate world enough times to know what we’re probably seeing here. It’s a high-tech version of the tale of The Emperor Has No Clothes. A boss gets a big idea that most of his subordinates know is “clunky” or worse, and yet none of them dares to raise an objection. Only disaster and embarrassment bring resolution and that comes too late.

For those worried about disk crashes, I suggest using SuperDuper or one of its kin for backup. It beats the socks off a DVD reboot. I had a drive crash and ten minutes later I was back at work with everything configured as I like it, including all my apps, and with nothing of significance lost. When the drive began to go, I quickly saved the file I was working on to a thumb drive. Everything was on that backup drive. I booted off it, and went back to work. When the replacement drive arrived, I cloned it from my backup drive. I also use Time Machine to another drive, but it’s SuperDuper that I trust most.

RJ

I like the thought of no disks and the ability to download to all my machines. I have 4 macs in the house and satellite internet with a 12GB cap( no I don’t have any other options and no I don’t live in the boondocks, only 5 minutes from I-5 and between two cities). The MacBooks aren’t a real problem as stated in the article just a pain to go somewhere to sit and download. The iMac and Mini are the problem. I can’t see myself hauling my computers to a Mac Store set up plug in and wait for the download. The plan, in a place with good internet connections to all, would work in the real world it is ill-conceived.

Ken

“ill-conceived” is a polite term to say the least. It almost boarders on arrogance to assume that every Mac owner either has access to a broadband-type connection with a large data allowance, or is near a Mac store. Really, how difficult is it for Apple to make the upgrade available on a flash drive? Given that people are willing to pay $29-$59 for Apple accessories that cost a few dollars to make, it stikes me as odd that they would not just charge people for the convenience of a flsh drive, as selling convenience is really a large part of Apple’s DNA. I am beginnning to wonder if Apple will be “jumping the shark” some time soon with its recent attitude towards its customers. And for the record, I currently own and use equipment that runs on Windows, Android and iOS. And yes, I have my issues and praises for all the hardware and software manufacturers, and Apple is no exception one way or antoher.

–Ken

Romino

This is a environmental solution as well. Apple has always been concern about it. The fewer DVD’s in the market the better. Just because you have the money to spend, it doesn’t mean that you can do it and generate more garbage.

Ken

@ Romino
I take exception to your statement that Apple has always been concerned about the environment. For the most part, environmentalists had to pressure Apple to get in the game with respect to environmentally friendly manufacturing and recycling. And I am still not sure how environmentally friendly using aluminium for computer cases is until I see a recycling plan for these machines when they are no longer in service. And with regards to DVDs, I did not advocate the use of DVDs for distribution. I suggested flash drives, which can be used and re-used extensively. Being concerned about the environment, I would think that you would be in favor of extending the life of any existing machines in any way possible, including making it easy to upgrade operating systems. I can see some people deciding to replace thier machines with a new model rather than deal with the unecessary hassle of having to obtain the upgrade though inconvenient means. Why encourage them with arrogant policies?

–Ken

Yacko

You could bring a MacBook in, get the Lion “download”, pay for as many licenses as you need and burn a DVD or USB stick at home for your other machines. Within the Lion installer there is talk of a .dmg that can be imaged to other media.

MySchizoBuddy

being in Pakistan with 2Mbit/s unlimited connection this doesn’t have any affect on me at all.

How many times in an year does an average Mac user format his hard drive?

Yacko

“How many times in an year does an average Mac user format his hard drive?”

The correct answer should be zero unless you have had hardware failure and need to replace it.

Brian

“Apple wants to alleviate some of those issues, by suggesting that users should bring their Macs in to their local Apple Store (via Computerworld), and use the free Wi-Fi connection provided by the store to download the update.”

I thought Apple’s reasoning was that we would’nt have to drive to our local Apple Store or as your article so quaintly plugs Computerworld and that is why they were not releasing it on DVD. Defeats Apples purpose for the App Store.

Dan

I understand why Apple is requiring Lion to be a download, it makes sense in terms of moving us (the end user) to the future. However, I think its too soon to make it be the only option. Perhaps the next version of Mac OS, but not now. I would be willing to pay an extra 10 bucks to have the physical media – I bet most people would…

mike

Actually, I am glad they are doing away with discs. They’re a hassle and a pain. As soon as I get any physical media I make a digital copy pronto so that I have an immediate solution should I need it (hard drive dies and I have to install on a blank hard drive) as well as the fall back network download/install.

Howie Isaacks

I realize that Apple is trying to push the idea of getting OS upgrades from the Mac App Store, and that’s a great idea. What are users supposed to do when their hard drive dies? When you replace a drive, there’s nothing on it. Are we supposed to install Snow Leopard, and then download Lion again? What about customers who buy a Mac with Snow Leopard pre-installed? I actually wrote to Steve Jobs about this issue. I asked if there would be any install media that would be distributed by Apple. His response… “Nope”. That’s it. There will be no media provided by Apple. I’m not sure I like that. I know how to create a Lion install disk, or thumb drive from the Lion installer, but the every day consumer wouldn’t know how to do that.

Howie Isaacks

I realize that Apple is trying to push the idea of getting OS upgrades from the Mac App Store, and that’s a great idea. What are users supposed to do when their hard drive dies? When you replace a drive, there’s nothing on it. Are we supposed to install Snow Leopard, and then download Lion again? What about customers who buy a Mac with Lion pre-installed? I actually wrote to Steve Jobs about this issue. I asked if there would be any install media that would be distributed by Apple. His response… “Nope”. That’s it. There will be no media provided by Apple. I’m not sure I like that. I know how to create a Lion install disk, or thumb drive from the Lion installer, but the every day consumer wouldn’t know how to do that.

Nicholas

Um, isn’t that what the USB stick is for? I thought one could boot from it?

PD

I think the obvious thing to do upon downloading Lion would be to back it up. If you’re saying that the “every day consumer” doesn’t know how to back up files, then they would certainly be lost as to what to do when their hard drive died regardless of physical media or not. Most likely they would go to a computer repair shop where a new internal drive would be installed, along with the latest OS one would assume. When I’ve had hard drives replaced by the Apple store in the past, they never delivered me a blank hard drive, it had the OS on it. They even offered to transfer everything else if I had a backup.

Basing an entire argument in favor of distribution on install DVDs to accommodate the rare case where a Mac user doesn’t know how to back up files and whose hard drive dies is kind of ridiculous, with all due respect. What about all the Mac Air users? Are you saying that they should be required to somehow secure a DVD drive? Aren’t there more of them than there are clueless users with bad hard disks?

Pants

What’s rally ridiculous is assuming that savvy users back up their entire OS, most do not. They only back up their files. If my HDD dies and I myself install a new one there is nothing on it, I would have to install Snow Leopard and re-download Lion. In the case the HDD is fine, but the machine won’t boot because the OS is hosed for some reason, same boat. If you did happen to be backing up the entire OS in that instance I wouldn’t even trust the backed up OS not to have the same issues.

PD

@Pants: I’ll say it again. If you have the wherewithall to replace a hard disk in a Macintosh computer (no easy feat), then surely you had the foresight and knowledge to make a backup of the Lion installer (I never said the entire OS).

If the hard disk is fine but for some reason but Lion is “hosed” and needs to be reinstalled, Lion automatically installs a recovery partition from which you can boot to reinstall the OS, repair disk drives, or even browse the local network for backups and installers. It may even let you look on the internet for solutions, I’m not sure, as I understand there’s a way to run Safari without logging in.

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