Thoughts on the Mac OS X Mountain Lion Developer Previewby Andrew Cunningham & Anand Lal Shimpi on February 19, 2012 7:40 PM EST
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.
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.