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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  • tipoo - Sunday, February 19, 2012 - link

    Safari seems like the last of the major browsers apart from Chrome (which does have it, but buried in the settings) that fails at GPU acceleration, even on mac. Is that any different this time? Reply
  • Guspaz - Monday, February 20, 2012 - link

    Chrome buries it in the experimental settings because it's still experimental. In my case, it provides a massive performance improvement to Chrome for even simple use like scrolling pages, but causes Chrome to crash far more often...

    I really hope they get it done soon, it makes a big difference.
    Reply
  • tipoo - Sunday, February 19, 2012 - link

    I can't help but feel Apple is headed towards an App store only distribution model for Macs like it is on iOS. Gatekeeper currently lets you choose where apps can come from and lets you still install any programs if you turn it to the most lenient setting, but what about a few years down the line when developers are all onboard the program and Apple feels comfortable enough to stop external sources? Reply
  • solipsism - Sunday, February 19, 2012 - link

    If that were the case then why give us that middle option as it will make it harder to remove in the future? Reply
  • sbmassey - Monday, February 20, 2012 - link

    Apple still supports Mac Ports, still provides the Terminal application, and still provides the free "Developer Tools" IDE. Given that pretty much all iOS and OSX software development uses some of these tools, I'm pretty sure that Apple is not going to go into full lockdown any time soon. Reply
  • MobiusStrip - Tuesday, February 21, 2012 - link

    No, they'll just throw an assload of FUD up on the screen and disable the installation of any app that's not from the App Store by default, even if other options are buried somewhere. Reply
  • chaise2jardin - Wednesday, February 22, 2012 - link

    You will have to jailbreak your OSX ! How pathetic.... Reply
  • TEAMSWITCHER - Thursday, February 23, 2012 - link

    Yes, but in this case Apple has provided the radio button to do it. Reply
  • Bozzified - Sunday, February 19, 2012 - link

    "This is another example where Apple has to carefully straddle the line between pushing everyone to the Mac App Store and not abandoning the rest of the Mac software ecosystem. I would like to see feature parity regardless of distribution model (perhaps with some restrictions) on OS X going forward, but I'm not sure that will happen."

    --

    Not only that this won't happen.. but it is an approach that Apple is using to make sure that developers are forced into the Mac App Store. If your non-Mac app store app doesn't have access APIs reserved only for those who distribute through the App Store than you are at a serious disadvantage thus you need to make a version for the app store.

    Doing so you basically scar your customers who buy directly, basically forcing you to give Apple 30% and go through the app store.

    So if Apple doesn't directly cut off any software that doesn't come from them (or through them) this is the way they will most definitely force developers to give them money.

    It is not matter of whether they will do it, but when. By default, deliberately, they have placed a huge warning sign already telling users that they can't run an app that's not from the App Store.. 80% of the users will never go to Preferences to check off unsigned apps and thus forcing developers to again go through the Mac App Store.

    Either way, this is a disgusting Apple tactic, that locks everyone in even further into their platform under the disguise of "security".

    But I guess, as time passes by, most people "loving" Apple will realize what kind of evil they have been supporting but it will be too late as it already may be.

    This is the beginning of the end of the computing as we knew and grew up with it.
    Reply
  • MonkeyPaw - Sunday, February 19, 2012 - link

    Yeah, even Linux distros are going the wrong way. Rather than making powerful features available through the control panel (like advanced user management), you are only given very simple options through the GUI, and have to resort to the terminal for relatively simple things. I'm referring to Gnome3, and Unity. :( Reply

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