The Good Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion's new iCloud integration and syncing features give you the same experience on all your devices. Upgrades to several core apps bring new and useful features for sharing and social connectivity.
The Bad Game Center, while finally available for Mac, still only has basic features. Dictation sends your voice to be translated at Apple servers, so you can't use it while offline. Gatekeeper keeps you from downloading unsafe programs, but it seems mostly unnecessary.
The Bottom Line Though it's not a complete system or interface overhaul, Mountain Lion's improved core apps and new features make it well worth the $19.99 price.
Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion
In the tale of two operating systems, Apple's Mountain Lion is a less ambitious endeavor. Rather than completely rewriting the book as Microsoft is attempting with Windows 8, Apple's latest operating system simply cleans house, clearing clutter, while bringing more cloud and sharing features into the fold -- specifically to make the desktop play nice with iOS devices. Some of the new features come directly from iOS, and many are welcome, but some seem unnecessary. Ultimately, what you get is the familiar layout of Apple's operating system and much less of a learning curve than with what we've seen so far of Windows 8's completely new touch-screen-focused interface.
The Mountain Lion release marks the second time Apple has offered an incremental upgrade, rather than releasing a new cat entirely (previously Leopard upgraded to Snow Leopard, for example). But don't let the modest feature or name upgrades deter you from seriously considering Mountain Lion: Apple doesn't change the game with the update, but improves everything from Safari to Messaging and adds new iCloud and sharing capabilities that make moving between devices easier.
Where Windows 8 dives head first into the touch-screen tablet market with a completely revamped user interface, Apple has improved upon what was already available, and -- in my opinion, based on using both Mountain Lion and early versions of Windows 8 -- Apple has made the wiser decision. By keeping the mobile and desktop operating systems separate, Apple can still deliver the best experience on each of its devices.
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