It seemed innocuous. My father-in-law bought an iPad 2. Now he’s not the most technical of people but loves his gadgets. He bought an iMac when they first came out, has the iPhone 4 blah, blah, blah. So the iPad 2 wasn’t a surprise.
So he gets it home, plugs it into his iMac (the white one, before they became aluminium). iMac says he needs to update his version of iTunes as it was the original version that came with his machine 3 years ago! Fair point. he downloads iTunes and fires up the installer. iMac says he needs to update his OS (he’s still on 10.4) for this version of iTunes to work. So how do you get the latest OS 10.7 Lion? That’s right, only via the App Store… which he can’t get until he updates his OS. Sensing an infinite loop yet?
So seems he has to buy a physical copy of OS 10.6, install that, to be able to download the 10.7 installer. This may not seem that important but it has quite interesting implications. Apple now requires you to go through every OS in a linear fashion. Up until now, you could pootle about with your current OS until you bit the bullet and upgraded to the latest version. It’s how it’s worked until now and is how Windows works. Apple have now guaranteed that any OS version they release is guaranteed to be bought somewhere along your upgrade timeline. And as delivery is digital, it’s money for old rope as far as Apple are concerned.
So then the phone rings. Said father-in-law has solved the problem. he’s just bought a brand new iMac to save the bother of upgrading. That’s certainly one way of doing it. So no need to buy that OS 10.6 update then! Luckily, he buys a firewire cable to connect the two macs together and we fire up the Migration Assistant on both macs. It’s a special app that will seamlessly transfer data from your old mac and put it in the right location on the new one. Brilliant. Only new mac says no. You guessed it, the version of Migration Assistant on the old mac needs updating for it to work. How does this happen? You guessed it, you need to buy the OS 10.6 update.
In a last attempt at circumnavigating the inevitable, I remember that macs can be started in Firewire Mode, turning the mac into nothing more than an expensive external hard drive. I can then just connect the firewire cable, mount the old mac as a drive on the new mac’s desktop and do the migration from there. You guessed it, the firewire drivers in the old mac don’t recognise the new mac as the new mac doesn’t actually run firewire, it has a brand new, Apple only ‘iWires’ connector. And, you guessed it, I need to update the OS to 10.6 to get the new drivers.
And don’t even think of suggesting that I put that new OS 10.7 disc that came with the new mac into the old mac and just install it from there. The installer discs that come with new macs are locked to that model. Devious stuff, or smart, depending on your angle.
So let’s assume you now have 10.6 installed. How do you get that all-important OS 10.7 Lion update? You have to download all 3.74Gb of it via your poor old home internet connection as Apple has decided not to offer any DVD version. Clearly a nod towards removing all DVD drives from Macs in the near future, like they did with the MacBook Air. It is due to be released on a USB stick later this month (hopefully) though. You’ll note the downloaded version is the same cost as the physical DVD version though. I believe the phrase is ‘go figure’.
As with so many Apple advances, the true implications are felt slightly further dow line. I’m watching this one with interest.