Apple has finally launched the next major release of their venerable OS X operating system - OS X 10.7 Lion. There are hundreds of new and upgraded features included with Lion, which departs from the “bug fixes only” motto that the previous OS X Snow Leopard release was created under. Lion looks to continue the marriage of OS X with Apple's iOS mobile operating system, borrowing the most useful features for transition to the desktop environment. Let's take a look at the upgrade process for moving your MacBook Pro from its current installation of OS X to the new OS X 10.7 Lion.
The first - and most important - step is to ensure that you have a backup of your current OS X installation before you begin. The easiest way to do this is to launch Time Machine, and make a backup that's stored on an external or networked drive (and not the MacBook Pro's main hard drive, just in case). Most users cringe when they hear the word 'backup', as it brings back memories of someone saying “I told you so!” when a hard drive failure or other issue caused data loss. There's little chance of this happening with the upgrade to OS X 10.7 Lion, but to be on the safe side, it's always better to have a recent backup.
Once the backup is made and you're ready to start the upgrade, you have a couple of options. The easiest and least expensive option is to install OS X 10.7 Lion through the Mac App Store, where it appears as a $29 download that's around 4 gigabytes in size. Users with a slow internet connection will find this download takes a significant amount of time, so if possible try to bring your MacBook Pro into work, school or another area that has fast download speeds. It should take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour or so to download OS X 10.7 Lion, and once it's downloaded the installation process will begin.
Users that don't have access to the Mac App Store will have to wait until August 2011, when Apple has promised to release OS X 10.7 Lion on USB drives for purchase in Apple stores and online. This is similar to the USB recovery drive which is included in the new MacBook Airs that are shipping out alongside the OS X 10.7 Lion launch, but unfortunately are expected to retail at $69, which is more than double the cost of the Lion upgrade.
One last option is to make a backup of the OS X 10.7 Lion installer from the MacBook of someone who has already done the upgrade. This requires a number of software steps, and isn't for those who are inexperienced at creating recovery discs or digging through the Finder for various files. There's little doubt that the best option for most users is the Mac App Store, so try to have your MacBook Pro upgraded already to ensure that the Mac App Store is installed on your machine and ready to go.
During the upgrade, Lion will ask some rather typical questions regarding setup, and then handle everything else on its own, including reboots. Barring any difficulties or issues during the upgrade process, after the install completes your MacBook Pro will launch into Lion and you'll be completely upgraded. Astute users will notice that Apple has dropped much of the eye candy, including the 'Welcome' video which is shown after installation, as the need to reduce the size of OS X for downloading purposes cut out much of the chaff.
With an easy app-based installation process, a bargain price and many new features, OS X 10.7 Lion is a win for anyone with a recent MacBook Pro that has the horsepower to handle it.
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