In the same way that Mac OS X so clearly showed the rest of the industry what user interfaces would look like in the years to come, Apple’s own iOS has now done the same for its decade-old desktop operating system. iOS was less shocking to users because it appeared to come from nothing, and the mobile operating system conventions it defied were ones that nobody liked anyway. The same is not true on the desktop, where users cling like victims of Stockholm syndrome to mechanics that have hurt them time and again.
It may be many years before even half of the applications on a typical Mac behave according to the design principles introduced in Lion. The transition period could be ugly, especially compared to the effortless uniformity of iOS. In the meantime, let Apple’s younger platform serve as a lighthouse in the storm. The Mac will always be more capable than its mobile brethren, but that doesn’t mean that simple tasks must also be harder on the Mac. Imagine being able to stick a computer neophyte in front of an iMac with the same confidence that you might hand that neophyte an iPad today.