The new operating system—version 10.8 of OS X—costs $20, down from $30 for its predecessor, Lion, and can be purchased and downloaded directly from the Mac App Store. Like Lion, Apple is allowing buyers to pay for and download one copy of Mountain Lion that you can install to multiple Macs—a welcome feature for multi-Mac households.
Apple first announced the latest update to its operating system in February. The update continues a trend to introduce features to its desktop and laptop families that have already been implemented on its iPad and iPhone mobile devices.
According to the developer preview, users must already have at least the latest version of Snow Leopard (OS X 10.6.8) or any version of 10.7 to install Mountain Lion. Apple says the following Macs will support Mountain Lion:
- – MacBook (Late 2008 Aluminum, or Early 2009 or newer)
- – MacBook Pro (Mid/Late 2007 or newer)
- – MacBook Air (Late 2008 or newer)
- – iMac (Mid 2007 or newer)
- – Mac mini (Early 2009 or newer)
- – Mac Pro (Early 2008 or newer)
- – Xserve (Early 2009)
As previously reported, Mountain Lion includes a number of features that integrate Macs more closely with iOS products like the iPhone and iPad, including iCloud integration, along with Mac-based versions of iMessage, Reminders, Notes, Notification Center, Twitter integration, Game Center, and AirPlay Mirroring.
The new operating system also features Facebook integration, with notifications from that social network appearing in the new Notifications Center, and the ability to post pictures to the network directly from iPhoto. Facebook friends and their profiles will also be added to the Contacts app in Mountain Lion.
Also among Mountain Lion features: Voice dictation that converts your spoken words into text, along with the new Power Nap feature—available to laptops with solid state drives—which will find updates to Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Reminders, Notes, Photo Stream, Find My Mac, and Documents, then download and backup those updates to your computer while its asleep, so long as it is connected to a power source.
The firm has also taken steps to aid its expansion in China including the adoption of Baidu as a search service built into its web browser’s toolbar, and buttons to make it easy to share material to the Sina Weibo microblog, and the video sites Youku and Tudou.
However, the firm’s decision to keep its Mac system distinct from iOS for mobile devices is set to be challenged by October’s Windows 8 release by Microsoft.
Microsoft is offering users the chance to run the same system on both their tablets and desktop computers, making it easier to share software between them.
Windows 8 – and its touchscreen Metro apps – have been described by Microsoft as the biggest revision to its interface in over a decade. But one analyst said Mountain Lion was more of an incremental step forward
“While there are a lots of new features this is not a major upgrade like the last version Lion was,” said Brian Blau, research director at tech research firm Gartner.
“But Apple has also been improving its Office-like software and creation applications along the way, so maybe it didn’t need such a big revision. And you have to bear in mind it is only charging $20 [£13.99 in UK] for the change.”
By contrast Microsoft is charging $39.99 for a Windows 8 upgrade, while Linux-based systems, such as Ubuntu and Debian, can be downloaded for free.