Is it Safe to Use & The Future

Mountain Lion does still have some rough edges and there's an extensive list of known bugs. The OS is usable if you're wondering whether or not you can install it on a secondary machine and live with it. I would caution anyone against migrating their primary system to it unless they're ok with dealing with some bugs that may not have workarounds.

We often encourage competition because the end user stands to benefit. It's clear that Microsoft's renewed aggressiveness with Windows 8 is making the OS space more interesting than it has been for a few years now. I don't know that we're necessarily going to see an increased rate of switching/reverse switching as a result of Mountain Lion/Windows 8 but that's where all of this is heading. Microsoft wants to prevent and reverse any exodus to the Mac while Apple wants to grow its marketshare at Microsoft's expense. Even as the mobile revolution transpires it's clear that there's still room for innovation and competition in the more traditional notebook/desktop space.

Going into 2013 and beyond things do get more interesting however. The line between notebook and tablet will become even blurrier. If you could build something iPad-sized out of MacBook Air hardware what would it run? iOS or OS X? UI aside I think there are some very interesting options for OS convergence going forward.

Conclusions

Like most OS X updates, Mountain Lion combines visible new features with under-the-hood changes and improvements, which between them usually amount to an upgrade that is worth Apple's asking price for the majority of users. The changes you care about will vary from person to person, but based on what I've seen (both in the new features covered by other outlets or the changes I've mentioned above) it looks like there should be something here for most people, especially if you own multiple Macs or are in any way invested in iOS.

Those of you worried that Lion was the first step toward disallowing non-Mac App Store programs from running in OS X: that future has not come to pass, at least not yet. "Never" is a long time, but for now it appears that the Gatekeeper functionality is indicative of the way these things will be handled on Macs. The default settings may change, but power users can freely install anything they want on their systems, just as before.

The (admittedly smallish) audience of OS X Server users who were worried that Lion Server was a step toward dumbing the servers down and stripping out features: it looks like your fears may be more justified, depending on which services you use. Apple seems focused on maintaining a core set of technologies like Mail, NetBoot, Messages, Open Directory, Profile Manager, File Sharing, and others, but by (apparently) removing more enterprise-centric features like DHCP from OS X Server, the company seems to be admitting that its servers are typically used in conjunction with other Windows and/or Linux boxes that supply the network's backbone (which, at least in my experience as an IT admin, has tended to be true).

At this early point in the development process, the conclusions I've made here are the only ones I feel comfortable making. Keeping in mind that all of this is subject to change, have at it in the comments section.

Messages, AirPlay Mirroring, QuickSync, Server & Older Hardware
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  • ananduser - Monday, February 20, 2012 - link

    Your description fits W8 entirely. Reply
  • steven75 - Monday, February 20, 2012 - link

    Or... Mountain Lion, since you CAN install apps from the internet willy-nilly or drop down to the terminal if you really want to. Reply
  • ananduser - Monday, February 20, 2012 - link

    The Metro interface that W8 sports is much more dramatic than the effect some features from ios integrated in OSX might have.

    The Metro/Classic duality is also much more akin to ying/yang than the OSX interface which is technically a mash-up.
    Reply
  • Scannall - Monday, February 20, 2012 - link

    My mom is in her 70's. About a year and a half ago I finally talked her into ditching her Windows ME (Yes, the hated ME) computer. Got her a 27 inch iMac, transferred all her photos and other documents for her. And she has just been thrilled. She has since purchased an iPad 2 and an Apple TV box to go with it.

    And, since setting it up initially, she hasn't needed ANY tech support from me.

    But for the more hard core, and those that like to tinker the Terminal program is still there, with all the command line goodness (Or destruction...).

    Also, it's pretty easy to add either Windows and Linux to your iMac. I have both on mine. Most days anymore I just want to get things done, so I boot into OS X. On the days I feel like tinkering more there is Windows and Linux there for me to play with.
    Reply
  • bji - Monday, February 20, 2012 - link

    I had a similar experience with my 65 year old mother. After 10+ years of supporting her on Windows computers, I finally bought her a mac mini after her most recent Windows virus infection. It's been the smoothest 6 months of her computer life so far, and the amount of tech support I've had to provide has been much lower. She even figured out how to resize pictures and email them, on her own, something that for some reason after 10+ years of Windows use she still hand't figured out.

    This is just anecdotal evidence of course, and someone else's mother may find the Windows way of doing things comprehensible, but my mom didn't, and given how many similar comments I've read, I have a feeling there is something to Apple's UI design that works well for novice users.

    As a software developer, I have no problem with Apple's approach, as long as they leave the door open for third party applications that don't go through their app store, which so far, they are.

    I personally have never owned a Macintosh, but have alread set aside the money for a 15 inch Macbook Air, just waiting for them to come out. It will be nice to finally be able to port my software to OS X.
    Reply
  • cyabud - Monday, February 20, 2012 - link

    "I feel Apple as well as all others should provide a simple switch to disable to 'walled garden' "

    This switch you talk of is called Terminal.app

    And I suppose on iOS it's called a jailbreak, but we're talking about OS X here.
    Reply
  • solipsism - Monday, February 20, 2012 - link

    Andrew and Anand describe the Gatekeeper controls in System Preferences and how you can bypass them at anytime by holding down a couple keys.

    Apple has no reason to force you to only buy Mac App Store apps otherwise they would not have offered code signing for external apps which make non-App Store apps safer. They also don't get so much profit from apps that it makes sense to limit to the number of potential Mac buyers.

    Apple is by far the most profitable PC maker in the business and they plan to stay that way, hence their move to faster OS X updates and trying to make OS X as familiar as their more popular iOS platform without negatively impacting usability. So far they are doing a good job of it.
    Reply
  • Conficio - Tuesday, February 21, 2012 - link

    Terminal.app is not an open field (as opposed to a walled garden). It's more like the trenches of the [battle of the] somme.

    Really, while a terminal window is nice, the functionality it opens up is undocumented, unsupported and mostly hidden from view. and if you start the app from the terminal it still bitches about "being downloaded from ....", scaring the daylight out of "ordinary" users.

    Really why I give credit to Apple to break the walled prisons of the cell phone carriers (mostly the US variety) on phones, they only did in order to replace it with their own walled garden. At least they allow different producers of the same kind of apps to compete, as they profit from all of them equally, where cell phone carriers pick and choose.
    Reply
  • TEAMSWITCHER - Monday, February 20, 2012 - link

    Just because you can buy the individual parts for a computer and assemble them doesn't make you an expert - you're more like a mechanic.

    Your entire argument is based on a false assumption, that Mac's are simple computers for simple people - a "walled garden". While that is true for those who like it that way, Mac's also include many high knowledge tools that Windows does not. Terminal provides access to these tools that have been a foundation for computers since the early Days of the C programming language and the UNIX operating system. Sorry, the MSDOS box is not even close to comparable.

    Windows is more like a "Theme Park", you can ride all the attractions, but remember you are only a park visitor, and cannot go into areas marked "Authorized Personnel Only." They made damn sure of this by not providing the same tools that are included in each and every MAC OS X installation.
    Reply
  • cjs150 - Monday, February 20, 2012 - link

    Interesting comments to my post even if one (Tim) is obviously Mr Angry.

    I would not ask my 70+ year old mother to build a computer, I would buy her an Ipad because she does not need to understand how is works merely use it.

    But my 10 year old needs to understand computers properly and best way is to start by making her build one (OS will probably by Linux). Maybe that makes her a mechanic (Teamswitcher) but it will also give her a better appreciation of how computers work.

    Yes W8 worries me, it is supposed to be a more mature OS but looks like it was designed by someone whose only previous experience was an Ipad and kids cartoons.

    The problem is that as the computing market matures a lot of assumptions are being made about how people should use the computer. I do not want someone else making assumptions about how I should work, what I want is the software to allow me to work the way I want to.

    Please understand my original post was that the Apple philosphy does not work for me not that I hate Apple.
    Reply

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