Apple's Mac OS X 10.7 Lion is here, bringing some useful auto-save tools, an improved mail client and a UI that's designed to be more accessible to non-Mac users who own an iPhone or iPad.
The biggest question for most creatives when deciding whether to upgrade is whether your key creative tools will work properly on it.
For many users of Adobe's Creative Suite, the key issue is that Lion doesn't include Java as standard, so it needs to be installed. However, in our tests, upgrading a MacBook Pro with CS5 on it to Lion prompted us to install Java. There are also a whole host of minor issues and things to be aware of that Adobe has listed in a tech note here.
For anyone still using Creative Suite 2, or any earlier Adobe products, these won't run at all on Lion. This is also true for any pre-Intel Mac app, as Apple has removed the Rosetta engine for running such programs.
QuarkXPress 9 isn't supported under Lion, but Quark says that a major free update in August wil add support. Autodesk says that its Maya 2012 3D suite is unstable on Lion, and the installer will crash. Best stay away until it's fixed. Maxon is currently in the process of testing Cinema 4D R12 under Lion and hasn't discovered any issues so far.
Microsoft's host of issues
Microsoft has confirmed that customers running Office for Mac will experience problems with the suite on Apple's new Lion operating system. The most serious of the bugs crashes Communicator when Office for Mac 2011 users try to send an instant message, or start an audio or video call. Microsoft says it is fixing this.
Another bug means that Lion users can't import mail from Apple Mail into Outlook.
Office for Mac 2004 won't run on Lion at all as it was written solely for PowerPC Macs. With Lion, Apple has dropped support for Rosetta, the emulator that allowed programs compiled for the PowerPC to run on Intel processor-equipped Macs.
Office for Mac 2011 and Office for Mac 2008 also lack support for many of the Lion-specific features that Apple introduced with Mac OS X 10.7, such as Auto Save and Versions.
If you need a new Mac and don't want to upgrade to Lion, some dealers have limited stock of Mac Pros, MacBook Pros and iMacs running OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard).