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OS X Mountain Lion Review 424

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-got-your-mobile-OS-in-my-desktop-OS dept.
John Siracusa at Ars Technica has published a lengthy and detailed review of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion. (Lengthy enough that the review garnered a review of its own.) Siracusa methodically goes through all of the changes in the new version, covering everything from the minor new features to the overarching goals. Quoting: "Despite the oft-cited prediction that Mac will eventually be subsumed by iOS, that's not what's happening here. Apple is determined to bring the benefits of iOS to the Mac, but it's equally determined to do so in a way that preserves the strengths of the Mac platform. Where we Mac nerds go wrong is in mistaking traditions for strengths. Loss aversion is alive and well in the Mac community; with each 'feature' removed and each decision point eliminated from our favorite OS, our tendency is to focus heavily on what's been lost, sometimes blinding ourselves to the gains. But the larger problem is that losses and gains are context-dependent. A person who never uses a feature will not miss it when it's gone. We all pay lip service to the idea that most users never change the default settings in software, but we rarely follow this through to its logical conclusion. The fact is, we are not the center of the market, and haven't been for a long time. Three decades ago, the personal computer industry was built on the backs of technology enthusiasts. Every product, every ad was created to please us. No longer. Technology must now work for everyone, not just 'computing enthusiasts.'" A somewhat briefer review is available at ComputerWorld, and there's a quick one from John Gruber.
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OS X Mountain Lion Review

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  • This is why I left the commercial software behind so many years ago. Let us contrast OS X, Windows and Linux+GNOME. All have recently succumbed, or will soon, to tablet madness. By this I mean that they are all undergoing an almost total rewrite to target an audience almost exactly unlike the one that currently uses the product. Whether this will be 'successful' is still debatable but for my purpose, as a current or past user, almost beside the point.

    If you are a Mac user, as a drinker of the Kool-Aid you have no choice. Whatever is coming out is insanely great, you simply must believe that because any other thought would lead to madness. Windows folk will simply bitterly cling to Windows 7 until it end of lifes and hope policy changes, as it often does. They are more like Star Trek fans, they admit there is a pattern to which releases suck and don't suck. But again, their choice is limited to picking one of the available supported versions. When you hitch yourself to a commercial entity you always subject yourself to their business needs, which are rarely in alignment with your own and you get little input into the decisions they make and few options when they change directions and abandon you.

    Now lets see how I came out. Few would dispute the GNOMEs also became infected with tablet madness and were suffering from 'lets remove features until an idiot can't screw anything up" disorder long before that. Difference is that when it finally became too much, after installing Fedora 15 and looking at the steaming turd that was GNOME 3, I didn't have to develop a cognitive disonance and convince myself the turd was actually shiny, new and that I loved it after all. I didn't have to bitterly cling to Fedora 14 (along with my gun, bible, etc.) and pray either. There were a multitude of options at that time and because I was in the company of a multitude who had also been similarly abandoned even more new options quickly appeared. And none involved the pain of even distro switching, let alone switching OS and most applications just because one group decided to change focus. In the end, WE decide. I decide. Worst case I could fork the closest thing to what I like and work on it.

    Free means never being at the mercy of someone else's business plan.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @02:09PM (#40767095)

    This is why I left the commercial software behind so many years ago. Let us contrast OS X, Windows and Linux+GNOME. All have recently succumbed, or will soon, to tablet madness.

    I'd buy that in the case of Win8, and maybe Gnome 3, but not OS X. Apple already owns the most successful tablet OS in the business. OS X has borrowed a few iOS touches, mostly aesthetic [eg superficial and easily ignored] ones, but has not succumbed to "tablet madness" the way Microsoft did. Probably because Apple was the only OS vendor that didn't have an "Oh-shit-we-need-our-own-iPad-thing" reaction.

    OS X still has a Desktop metaphor.
    Still has a user-accessible filesystem.
    Still has windows and a menu bar.
    Doesn't even have native touch-screen support at all

    And these are not accidents, or features that Apple forgot to cover up or replace with tablet-like equivalents. They're there because Apple was smart enough to understand the differences between tablets and traditional PCs, and had enough foresight to come up with a separate OS for the former five years ago.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @02:11PM (#40767129)

    And yet I don't have to upgrade my OS at all. That's the point. My unsupported Windows version will have longer and better support from software developers than your 6 month old Loonix install will. Just look at how 12 years later that XP still gets the latest games and most of the latest versions of applications.

  • by ashpool7 (18172) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @02:13PM (#40767159) Homepage Journal

    >Free means never being at the mercy of someone else's business plan.

    It just means being at the mercy of a bunch of random developers instead.

    Nobody has enough time to maintain forks of everything they use, never mind the people who don't even have the knowhow.

  • by Bill_the_Engineer (772575) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @02:15PM (#40767199)

    I'm sure you're trying to make a point in there somewhere, but it's pretty evident that you haven't used OS X Lion or the new Mountain Lion. With a few tweaks, my desktop looks the same in Mountain Lion as it does on my older machine running Leopard. I just don't see what you are talking about. A single application named "Launchpad" doesn't mean that OS X has abandoned the desktop and gone tablet crazy.

    Congrats on your effort to somehow include Gnome 3 and your free software slogan in your diatribe.

  • by uptownguy (215934) <UptownGuyEmail@gmail.com> on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @02:18PM (#40767239)

    ...um... And here I thought I was just upgrading to a newer release, not drinking Kool-Aid or proving I am a slave or whatever.

    10.8 is a nice dot release. I am VERY happy to have AirPlay mirroring to my AppleTV. I travel and give presentations to small groups and in meetings, knowing that I just lost my tether and will be able to sit anywhere around the table instead of right next to wherever the monitor cable happened to be is kind of nice. I also appreciate the integration with my reminders app on my iPhone.

    I dislike the fact that they removed Podcast Publisher. This means I am going to have to find a workaround for what (had been) an easy workflow for me. I'm sure I'll find other little annoyances over the coming days and weeks. And I'll adjust.

    All things considered, I'm pleased. More than that, though, I guess I'm just really confused by the us-vs.-them mentality in the above post. I happen to use the OS I do because it seems to be the right tool for the job. I also run Windows 7 (via Parallels) so that I can run Visio and MS Project and a few other programs that I need. Sometimes my smartphone is the right tool (happens to be an iPhone but I've seen similar functionality on Android phones and Windows phones) sometimes my tablet... I don't feel "locked in" to any of it any more than I feel locked in by the choices a television network makes for their fall lineup or the choices my state has made for when and where road construction will occur. There are projects in life that are bigger than one person and choices are made we don't always agree with.

    Jeepers. I had no idea I was drinking Kool Aid or stifling dissenting thoughts so as to stave off madness. I've been coming to Slashdot for over 14 years. I appreciate a low 4 digit UID. But really, does a content free screed about how open source is the only right path posted minutes after the article hits the front page really further the discussion about the OS X Mountain Lion review?

  • by characterZer0 (138196) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @02:22PM (#40767285)

    And yet I don't have to upgrade my OS at all.

    As long as you do not mind having a botnet zombie.

  • by MikeRT (947531) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @02:25PM (#40767303) Homepage

    Their handling of the retina display was a major screw up that sacrificed the very reason to call the MacBook Pro a professional device so that normal users (home and manager types, for example) could have an expensive and sexy fashion statement-laptop (instead of giving them a 17 inch retina display Air). Their unwillingness to maintain the Mac Pro is another reason why people get the impression that the iPhoneification of OS X is underway.

    I think it's much simpler: Steve Jobs was the last executive who understood the need to keep Apple's feet in both the home market and the outskirts of the enterprise. Their current management may know the design approaches he liked and a host of other things that can let them keep going in the same pattern. Unfortunately, I don't think they "get" the different segments of Apple's products. Macs aren't supposed to just be toys for upper-middle class snobs (I say this as an owner of a 2008 MBP). They're supposed to be able to actually do work as well.

    This is why I really think Apple's fans need to realize that this may be the start of Apple's decline (not into irrelevant, just to some place of North of Sony's current position in 10 years). A company Apple's size can afford to maintain both appliance-like devices and real workhorse computers. Apple is not even saying they won't keep going. They're just stumbling around.

  • by Cinder6 (894572) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @02:26PM (#40767319)

    I think you're blowing the "iOS-ness" of Mountain Lion out of proportion. I've been using the GM for a while and the DPs before that, and my core usage has remained unchanged since Lion. "Now wait," you say, "Lion also brought iOS features!" True. Of course, you don't have to use them. My Lion usage patterns are unchanged from Snow Leopard.

    If you look at the main features [apple.com], you'll see two things. First, it's not a big update like Leopard or Tiger (hence the $20 price tag). Second, the most iOS-like feature is Notification Center, which is basically just a better version of Growl that Macs have had for years now. Reminders and Notes are apps that appear in iOS, yes, but that's all they are--apps. Use them or don't.

    There are two major features of Mountain Lion. iCloud is the most obvious user-facing one, as it is much more tightly integrated with the OS than it was in Lion. The biggest feature is probably the one least talked about, and that is Gatekeeper. It's pseudo-iOS-like, because by default it only allows apps from "identified" developers to run on your system, but when you try to run an unsigned app it lets you know how to turn it off. It should be noted that "identified" does not mean App Store only, though obviously App Store developers are "identified".

    Compare this to Windows 8, which is getting a near-complete UI change. Or GNOME or Unity and possibly other DEs I haven't used, which are also heavily influenced by tablets. Apple seems to be the only one that isn't trying to completely change my workflow. I wouldn't be sure I'd call this update insanely great or anything--frankly, the iCloud features should have been present in Lion--but it's a nice update and it's cheap.

  • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @02:32PM (#40767399)

    I can dismantle your whole pro-Linux argument with one sentence:

    - Show me how to run Microsoft Visio on Gnome, KDE, or any other distribution so I can open, edit, and then save *.vsd files on my company's network drive.

    I don't use MS-Windows because I like it. Anymore than I drive through interstate jams for fun. I do it because it's the defacto standard that everyone uses. I avoid Microsoft as much as possible but using alternatives (LibreOffice, VLC Player, Winamp, Mozilla seaMonkey, etc). But at the end of the day I still need to use Windows as my base because that's where the office & engineering tools run.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @02:42PM (#40767557)

    For all the arguing we do about Apple, there are a few things I think we can agree on with regard to their last decade:

    They plan ahead.

    Everything they do is for a reason consistent with that plan.

    So they're all shiny and finished on the outside, like every little product just pops out effortlessly, but that place is like a well oiled machine on the inside. You don't hear a lot about half-hearted tinkering at Apple. That's not to say they don't have flops, but still, they're on-mission every. single. day. And it's working for them.

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @02:42PM (#40767567) Homepage

    I do more with my "iToy" in a day than you have ever done in your entire life on your windows PC little kid. Come on back when you can do something more than edit a Myspace Page.

  • by kenorland (2691677) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @02:45PM (#40767609)

    Ah, the old astroturfing: a "dearth of applications for Linux" and "great backwards support for Windows". Give it up, man, you'll never hype your stock up again.

  • by crypticedge (1335931) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @02:48PM (#40767661)

    For now, I know firefox was talking at one point of dropping XP support and we aren't far from the rest of the current software developers doing the same. A 12 year old Linux system is still just as usable, but you would be a fool to think any 12 year old system with no updates is in any way secure. As Microsoft is soon to phase out all updates for XP, you'll find that your 12 year old OS is no longer really usable.

    You'll also find that your not getting the performance if your running that 12 year old OS on newer hardware since you have a lack of 64 bit support, lower memory allowances, and worse video performance capabilities.

    You'll also find you still have to reboot on a frequent basis, a Linux system can go years without a reboot (and our Linux based phone systems do go 2+ years without frequently)

  • Hmmm... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by eno2001 (527078) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @02:55PM (#40767749) Homepage Journal

    This is the most chilling thing I've read in a while: "Three decades ago, the personal computer industry was built on the backs of technology enthusiasts. Every product, every ad was created to please us. No longer. Technology must now work for everyone, not just 'computing enthusiasts'." Why is it chilling? Because I'm seeing it everywhere. Things that I consider to be killer features that MUST exist on a computing device are just disappearing. No OS is immune at this point. As a hardcore Linux fan since the early 90s, even I have to acknowledge that Linux is dying. Ubuntu is killing it. Windows isn't looking to sharp in version 8 either. It sounds like Mac OS X is headed down the same road.

  • by Phrogman (80473) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @03:12PM (#40767957) Homepage

    Precisely. I used PCs running various flavours of DOS and Windows for years. I was constantly upgrading drivers, fixing problems, updating my components etc. I liked being in control of my hardware, but the net result was a lot of time spent making the computer work.
    Eventually I decided to try an iMac desktop. I love it. yes, I give up the ability to upgrade components, but on the plus side I have had this desktop for 5 years or so and it still meets all my computing needs including gaming. I no longer spend 10-20% of my time fixing something that broke mysteriously. It just works and I can get on with doing what I want to do.

    I also ran various distros of Linux, FreeBSD, even tried out Solaris briefly. When the need could be met by FOSS, I used it, and still do. When the need could be met by commercial software, I used that if I thought it worked better. Eventually I switched to running an iMac that runs OS/X and I am happy with that. I bought an Apple TV, my wife has an iPad, we are happy with those.

    That however is apparently "drinking the koolaid" and I must be put down for enjoying the product I paid for. What fucking bullshit. You know, sometimes when companies really work hard to develop a decent product, it turns out to be decent, and worth the money they charge. Apple is doing that for me, and so long as they continue to do that I will likely buy their products, but when that is no longer true, or something better comes along I will buy that instead. For me, nothing has so far.

  • by wfolta (603698) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @03:14PM (#40767977)

    Ridiculous. Microsoft may have "succumbed to tablet madness", but the review made clear that Mac OS X has not. Mountain Lion has borrowed things from (tablet) iOS, but many of these ideas are not tablet-specific at all. The review specifically states that OS X has not been subsumed by iOS, and has a distinct trajectory.

    Do iOS 6 and Mountain Lion converge a bit? Yes. Is there "madness" to it? Not even a taste. You should actually read the article instead of using it as a jump-off point to grind your Linux axe.

  • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @03:20PM (#40768039)

    The guy's argument was that we should all stop using OS X or Windows. I dismantled the argument by showing that I can't run Visio or ModelSim or other worktools on Linux, because they are only available on Windows.

    Therefore his advice to abandon Windows is an automatic deadend, and as brain-numbingly stupid as the Libertarians' advice to get rid of government-built roads. Clear?

  • by Shagg (99693) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @03:25PM (#40768103)

    If "and yet I don't have to upgrade my OS at all" means no longer being updated with security patches, then that probably qualifies as "the user does something careless".

  • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @03:25PM (#40768105)

    The guy's argument is that we should all stop using OS X or Windows. The problem is that I can't run Visio or ModelSim or other worktools on Linux, because they are only available on Windows. Therefore his advice to abandon Windows is an automatic deadend, and as brain-numbingly stupid as the anarcho-capitalist's advice to get rid of government-built roads. (IMHO)

  • > The problem is that I can't run Visio or ModelSim or other worktools...

    Dunno about you but I'd run Visio in a VM the few times a typical person needs it and download the Linux tarball for ModelSim. It ain't the 1990s anymore, dude! Professional tools tend to be available on professional workstations and Sun and SGI are long since out of that space, replaced with high end hardware running Linux, usually RHEL. That means any serious software runs there now. Sure they have a Windows exectuable and since Mac is POSIX they will often do one of those too, but real work happens on real workstations and more importantly, real compute heavy stuff happens on clusters. In case you have been in a cave the last few years, Linux pretty much owns clusters.

  • by Decameron81 (628548) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @04:00PM (#40768555)

    If you are a Mac user, as a drinker of the Kool-Aid you have no choice.

    I have been using Mac computers since 1989 and to this date I have found the OS to consistently improve over time. The only exception being OS 9, which kinda sucked. I'm speaking about my perception of their software of course, and implying others should share my opinion.

    It makes no sense for me to believe it's better to switch to Linux out of fear of being let down in the future. I really have no reason to believe it will happen. Even if it did, moving my files to some other PC would not really be an issue for me.

    My experiences with Linux weren't very happy ones either. I'm not trying to generalize but I've more than once found myself in a situation in which I've been told to fix something myself - which really is not something I'm interested in doing at all. I've got my dev projects and work, and I don't really care about improving the OS I use at home. Some of those issues were things that I know I can get working much easier in windows or mac (maybe due to experience on the OSes, that's not really important to me). My personal opinion on the subject is that Linux is not for me.

    Going back to your idea about Mac users drinking Kool-Aid, I think you're failing to put yourself in other people's shoes. Maybe your principles regarding open source/free software vs commercial software are not as important to others as they are to you?

  • Re:Hmmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wfolta (603698) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @04:06PM (#40768609)

    If by "technology enthusiasts" it means hobbiests who want to overclock their CPU and add a steam-powered cassette storage mechanism, Apple hasn't been the place for those enthusiasts since the Mac came out. If it means people who compile programs from source code, Mountain Lion has better compilers than GNU and tools for things like process monitoring (DTrace) and multi-threading (Grand Central Dispatch, blocks, etc) that are better than just about anything else out there.

    Those who play with computers to play with computers are a dying breed. Those who play with computers to accomplish something else (including very techie things like statistics) can do so under Mountain Lion as easily as ever, without being subjected to designs created by "enthusiasts" without design skills.

  • by Siberwulf (921893) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @04:10PM (#40768663)
    Your analysis is like an analogy of an airline passenger. You can choose to be a consumer and fly one of the major airlines. You get the seats the give you and the snacks they serve. You don't get to pick the flight path to your destination, and you don't get to pick your own schedule. To "best the system", you went to get your own pilot's license. You can fly where you want, when you want and choose the path. You're part of an elite bunch alright.

    From up that high, you might not be able to see it, but not everyone has the ability/time/desire to be a pilot. An overwhelming majority of the people who use planes to get from A to B are content with that choice. And frankly, I don't really hear a lot of private pilots droning on about how much better they are that they can fly themselves to somewhere when they want to.

    And btw, nobody is free. Don't pretend to be free just because you're a computer enthusiast. You're still a slave to the farmers, the electric company, the sanitation and water sources that feed your house and every other item in your world that you pay for. For you, this may be about freedom and choice and all that other jazz that 90% of the world doesn't care about when it comes to an operating system. If you sleep better at night, then cookie for you. The "Aura of Rightness" that you're projecting just comes off as a bit juvenile, though.
  • by BronsCon (927697) <social@bronstrup.com> on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @04:24PM (#40768835) Journal

    So, you download the source.

    ./configure

    make

    sudo make install

    There's your binary.

  • by thoth (7907) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @05:11PM (#40769483) Journal

    I guess I'm just really confused by the us-vs.-them mentality in the above post.

    It's just the cognitive dissonance created when a zealot is forced to reconcile two thoughts: the free market is correct, and customers (i.e. regular people) choose something else than their fervent attachment. They can't figure out why everybody doesn't use the same stuff as they do, after projecting their identical preferences/tastes and workflow or usage patterns onto the rest of humanity. Since they are naturally correct in every way, the conclusion is people are sheep or just don't get it.

    I used to be like that, but I'm also more willing to try stuff out and think critically. Over the years I realized that outside gaming, about 90% of what I do on a computer easily transfers between Windows, OSX, and Linux. These days rather than obsessing over OSes, I'm enjoying programming languages more - just learning and fiddling around with all the various new fangled languages there are. And that stuff is readily available for free on every platform.

  • by LordLimecat (1103839) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @05:56PM (#40770015)

    It's gets in when the user does something careless.

    This myth really has GOT to die.

    I direct you to exhibit A:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pwn2Own [wikipedia.org]
    6+ years of Windows and OSX being utterly Pwned through nothing more than a link click. Ill note that OSX was the first one owned for the majority of the time, but really the OS and browser dont matter that much. Chrome's upped ante and subsequent pwning this year shows that if you give hackers an incentive and enough time, they will 0-day remote-code-execution exploit any machine out there.

    The VAST majority of infections out there have NOTHING TO DO with Windows "exe" files, and everything to do with Flash, Acrobat, or Java plugins being exploited to run arbitrary code. Oh, and exploits run against older versions of Windows and IE, for those folks who never got the memo that upgrading is important.

    You can go ahead and assume that nothing can get thru your smug barrier, but Im going to go out on a limb here and say you might already be infected.

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