Mac App Store to Carry Mountain Lion in July for $20

The next version of Apple's Mac OS X operating system is going to hit the streets well before Microsoft's Windows 8 OS. In fact, it's just around the corner. It's called Mountain Lion, the ninth major version of Mac OS X (Cheetah, Puma, Jaguar, Panther, Tiger, Leopard, Snow Leopard, and Lion are the other eight), and it will be available in July from the Mac App Store for a measly $20.

Mountain Lion, which Apple touts as "Inspired by iPad. Re-imagined for Mac.," introduces over 200 new features, including a new Messages app, Notification Center, system-wide Sharing, Facebook integration, Game Center, and a whole bunch more. Apple's iCloud will also play an integral role in Mountain Lion, making it easier to setup Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Messages, Reminders, and Notes.

"The pace of innovation on the Mac is amazing, OS X Mountain Lion comes just a year after the incredibly successful launch of Lion," said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. "With iCloud built right in and the new Notification Center, Messages, Dictation, Facebook integration and more, this is the best OS X yet."

As with any new OS, security ends up being a point of emphasis, and with malware writers finally starting to take notice of the growing legion of Mac (and iOS) users, Apple made sure to properly introduce enhanced security with Gatekeeper.

"Gatekeeper helps protect you from downloading and installing malicious software on your Mac, no matter where your apps come from. And it gives you even more control over which apps you install," Apple explains. "You can download and install apps from anywhere on the web, just as you always could. You can choose to download and install apps from the Mac App Store — the safest place to find apps for your Mac. Or use the Gatekeeper default option, which allows you to install apps from the Mac App Store and apps from identified developers. It’s a new way OS X keeps your Mac safe."

Get the full scoop on Gatekeeper here and a rundown of all the new features in Mountain Lion here.