Last weekend we bought a new computer for my mother. Until then she had a 5 year old hand-me-down white MacBook whose battery was dead, still had a physical trackpad-button, the power-cable near the connector was completely ripped and the palmrest-edges weren't just cracked, they were gone.
Time for a new one we thought, so we got her Apple's entry-level notebook, the MacBook Air. A notebook no other computer manufacturer seems capable of matching in terms of price, build-quality or industrial-design finesse.
The problem was with setting the thing up. Apparently we got a model of MacBook Air which had been sitting on the shelf for a while as it did not come with OS X Mountain Lion and when running Software Update it had to pull in so much data, both software and firmware updates, that it choked when it tried to install them and just reported an error.
Running Software Update again triggered a re-download of the whole 1.6GB before failing again with the same error. Third time's a charm I thought but I went about it less... intuitive. I thought it'd be a good idea to download the firmware updates first (one by one) and apply those before trying the rest of the software updates. That eventually worked. So Apple, you have a problem when applying these two types of updates in one go.
This is not something "normal" people would be able to pull off. It was quite upsetting. Imagine having to take it back the next day because on day 1 something as simple as a software update kept failing, after having downloaded a huge amount of data, repeatedly.
After downloading 1.6GB of updates, three times, we got an up-to-date OS X Lion. It was getting late already and I didn't even dare mention anymore that another 4.3GB Mountain Lion download was in tow.
Anyway, the title of this post has to do with a single-threaded Mail.app. When we got to setting up her mail account, we found Mail.app beach-balling all the time. Whatever got clicked it beach-balled a minute or two before we could click again. I had enough and said I'd take the MacBook Air home and bring it back the next day because I had had enough. (Why does Apple gear only ever works flawless with me, I don't know.)
That same evening I found out that a MobileMe account got pre-installed, probably after entering her iCloud credentials. OS X Lion's Mail.app pre-populated itself with a MobileMe account. MobileMe, as we know, does not exist anymore. Mail.app was constantly trying to reach MobileMe's mail server, couldn't find it and started timing out, taking the whole Mail application with it. I patiently beach-balled my way through Mail.app's settings until I could hit the button that deleted the MobileMe account.
How could anyone ship a Mail application that completely hangs as soon as one mail account has problems connecting to the server? It's beyond me.