Apple OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion) Review

Introduction to Mountain Lion

Apple's Mountain Lion operating system has been a long time coming. Apple first teased the "200 new features" represented in OS X 10.8 back in June, and here we are in August with well over three million copies already downloaded. According to Apple, the launch of Mountain Lion is its most successful OS X launch ever. It's also interesting for another reason: it's the first Mac desktop OS ever to not ship on a disc or USB flash drive from the start. It's only available as a ~4.34GB download, which you could argue alienates OS X users who don't have access to a reliable broadband connection, but that's a discussion for another day.

Of course, you could always head to an Apple Store, a Starbucks or some other locale with free Wi-Fi, but it's another step that hasn't been a part of the equation. Apple has never shied away from pushing the envelope, be it the removal of the optical drive in the Mac mini, the introduction of the Retina display, or the decision to force users to download Mountain Lion. It's a digital world, and the idea of download-only isn't as far-fetched as it once may have been. SSD-based Macs have a much easier time with the installation too; HDD-based Macs need to allow around an hour after download to completely install OS X 10.8.

What is Mountain Lion -

So, let's talk about what OS X 10.8 is. OS X is a significant step forward for Apple and it has reached a very mature stage. Obviously, we've only got another point release before we roll to OS 11, or whatever Apple ends up naming it. Speaking of names, OS X 10.8's "Mountain Lion" moniker is somewhat revealing as well. OS X 10.5 was named Leopard, followed by 10.6 also known as Snow Leopard. Apple said that Snow Leopard was primarily a refreshing and refining of Leopard. Now, we're in a similar position. OS X 10.7 was Lion and today, we have Mountain Lion. To best understand what makes this edition worthwhile though, let's look at what's new.

The actual desktop space of OS X 10.8 isn't dramatically different than what you'll find in 10.7. At a glance, it may be tough to see what's actually different in Mountain Lion. But it's just a reminder that most point updates are subtle, and many of the changes are under the hood. It's worth mentioning that Mountain Lion requires a fairly new Mac. You'll need an iMac (Mid 2007 or newer), MacBook Air (Late 2008 or newer), MacBook (Late 2008 Aluminum, or Early 2009 or newer), Mac mini (Early 2009 or newer), MacBook Pro (Mid/Late 2007 or newer), Mac Pro (Early 2008 or newer) or an Xserve (Early 2009). AirPlay Mirroring requires an even newer subset of computers, and of course, Photo Booth and FaceTime require a Mac with a built-in camera / webcam. Why the need for all the fresh hardware? We'll take a look at that on the next page.

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