back to article Apple Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion review

So, here it is at last, the latest big cat in the Apple game reserve. There are plenty of new features, and numerous improvements but are they enough to tempt Mac users who felt bitten by the radical changes Lion to upgrade? Apple Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion Call of the wild: Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion talks up its dictation …

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Little bit of gushing at the end there, but this does look like a far more worth upgrade than Lion was. iMessage is cool but useless unless you're already inside the walled garden. The text-to-speech looks pretty sweet though, as does the sharing integration. Might be tempted to shell out at some point, though to be honest my Mac runs Kubuntu 95% of the time.

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"iMessage is cool but useless unless you're already inside the walled garden"

That's how it came across. Is it really just another IM service but one that is limited to Apple devices? I don't understand why that would be worth bigging up. Does it link in with any other IM services?

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Thumb Up

It is just iChat really

and works with Google Talk, Yahoo, AIM and Jabber

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It is just iChat really

Personally, as an old fart with family + kids + (spare_geek_time * 0) , one of the things I like about Messaging and Facetime is the fact that I don't have an online presence. If people want to send me a message or call me, it's like using email or the phone. They don't know if I'm there, and I feel no guilt about not answering (especially if I'm happily enjoying a private moment in the jizznasium). What ever happened to privacy goddammit?!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It is just iChat really

At work, product like IBM's Sametime are useful because of their presence indication - you know you can pick up the phone and call someone in Dallas or India knowing they are at their desk.

I'm 100% with at home. I dread new TV's with built in messaging - try watching a film on an XBOX that's logged into XBOX Live on a child's' account !

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Anonymous Coward

Almost

Almost makes you want to buy into it, almost makes you want the new hardware that comes with it.

I say almost because I still need a built in DVD drive.

So, no sale for me.

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Silver badge

Re: It is just iChat really

You can set your status on Skype, Google Chat etc. The one you want is "Invisible". Now you can buy a PC and save yourself £600.

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Megaphone

Re: It is just iChat really

even if you dont have an iphone or ipad, what wrong with using iMessage to communicate with all the people you know who DO have one??

and can you not set your status in iMessage or simply ignore the cal if you dont want to be interrupted? no one knows if you are sitting at the desk.

FUD

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It is just iChat really

Great idea. Also, hold off on buying that Omega watch; a Casio does more and costs far less (there's nothing wrong with plastic).

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Anonymous Coward

@Craigness

I'm guessing that most users of Skype and Google Chat won't call or message someone if they are "invisible", because they assume that person isn't there to respond? So effectively, you're adopting the somewhat anti-social stance of "don't call me, I'll call you". The fact that iMessaging (?) lacks an online presence feature, means that it is never a factor when deciding to make a call or send a message. I prefer this good old telephone style model.

Perhaps also, you meant that one should manage one's online presence as and when needs demand? Personally, I've always found that to be a burden especially when signed in from multiple computers/devices.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Almost

Use an external drive and get over it - you will find fewer and fewer laptops supporting 'legacy' things like DVD drives - I'm sure a few people still use them but the last time I needed to was perhaps a year or two ago. For me I welcome the increased battery size instead - now that most people will benefit from. The Apple USB DVD drive is only about the size of a CD case anyway for the times you do need it.

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Anonymous Coward

Hmm

Perhaps this incremental upgrade may be a better way to update an operating system than Microsoft's 'wait 8 years and then replace everything' model. It would be even better if one could pick and choose which set of features you wanted or buy a bundle to have it all. Then Microsoft would see people are interested in the Windows 8 improvements, but not in Metro.

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Re: Hmm

But bear in mind that Mac OS X doesn't have the same level of long-term backwards compatibility and support that Microsoft do, which is one of the reasons businesses prefer MS gear. I do agree though that MS are so desperate to be seen as forward-thinking and progressive that they're trying to re-invent the wheel. They could have taken Windows 7 and fixed all the things that annoy people, rather than go overkill with Metro.

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Re: Hmm

You've summed up my thoughts on why OSX (and IOS, and Android, etc.) bundle so much non-OS stuff as an OS upgrade.

I'm sure there are upgraded OS features in here, but what's the technical limitation on not having all the Notes, etc., things available as individual software upgrades?

Being such a minor incremental update, my point might not sound so relevant here.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hmm

In my experience businesses tend to buy a new machine plus OS rather than upgrade the OS on an existing machine. So the hardware backward compatibility doesn't really matter then.

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Silver badge

Re: Hmm

I'm with Greg. For me the system is there to look like it's the better way, but really it helps the obsolescence along. I can't help but feel that they are speeding up the rate at which devices fall out of support. My 2008 Macbook may not be rapid compared to Ivy Bridge hardware but runs a W7 VM fine with its SSD upgrade. However I'm SOL with this update and would, in theory, have to part with the odd £1,000 to get access to the latest and greatest.

I find that attitude disappointing to be honest - mainly because this OS came out 12 months after the last whereas previous gaps were around 2 years which means I only have 12 months (potentially) until I get nothing in the way of security updates. It is one area where I will never criticise MS, they do give you a long period of security updates. There also isn't too much issue with hardware - a memory update to a 2002 vintage P4 and it runs W7 fine.

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WTF?

Re: Hmm

Downvoted. How utterly ridiculous of me to expect £1k+ hardware to be supported past 4 years. How even more ridiculous of me to have pointed out that such behaviour is disappointing. I mean, expressing a valid opinion, whatever next?

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QQ

<protest placard>Bring back colour sidebar icons!</>

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Headmaster

Retina Macs

Wondert if this fixes some of the issues people have been having with the Retina Macs.

My new machine shipped yesterday. I'm entitled to a free upgrade but I wonder if the machine will have Snow Lion installed when it gets here?

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DJV
Happy

Snow Lion?

No, it will have Mountain Leopard installed instead, just to confuse you!

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Stop

Word of warning.....

A word of warning for anyone waiting for the version on USB stick. I got Lion on a USB stick to save a lengthy download and the blasted thing required another 0.75gb of "updates". So basically if you don't have fast net connection go and find one rather than pay through the nose for the USB version.

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Go

Re: Word of warning.....

There is no USB (or DVD) version - this is available as a download only.

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Re: Word of warning.....

You can make your own USB stick out of the downloaded "Install OS X Mountain Lion.app" (which autodeletes after it installs itself, so take a copy), search "InstallESD.dmg" for instructions.

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Happy

Re: Word of warning.....

Ok, it is download only, but having had a root around in the installer app there's again the "InstallESD" dmg with which you can create your own install media - USB stick or DVD. Just like Lion. I haven't tried it yet, but a quick check at Ars Technica has confirmed that it will produce install media in exactly the same way as it did with Lion.

This can certainly help those with multiple Macs but with crap or capped downloads.

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Unhappy

I don't see anything compelling, even for fourteen pounds. I think I'll give this upgrade a miss, as my iMac is noticeably slower with every upgrade.

If only Apple built in some efficiency savings to their OSX and iOS upgrades for older hardware, and made the newer features optional, rather than building them as showcases for their latest shinies.

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Word is it brings back some of Snow Leopard's speed

Although I haven't tried it yet myself.

At £14 I'll get it. The App Store is giving me an error when I try to download it at the moment though. "This item is temporarily unavailable."

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Bod

upgrades

"my iMac is noticeably slower with every upgrade"

And that's the point. £14 doesn't cover the costs, hardware is where Apple makes the money and there's no point delivering upgrades to the latest OS that means your old hardware is as good as the new ones on sale.

But people feel happy because it's just £14 and they can feel smug that their new OS is far cheaper than Windows. Some features won't work on their old hardware but that doesn't matter as they're planning on buying the new hardware soon enough, so the upgrade keeps them happy and loyal in the meantime.

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Silver badge

No, and no news as to whether the long-standing Bluetooth bug has been fixed or changes in the POSIX libraries, which drivers have been broken, etc. I'm going to give this at least a three-month miss. Lion did at least bring standardisation on x86_64, this one sounds just like lipstick and nail polish.

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Devil

You can't put lipstick on a pig.

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Anonymous Coward

@snotrot

"You can't put lipstick on a pig."

Yes you can, it's called Metro.

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Bronze badge

that's the pig. (Actually more like a retarded dodo.)

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Trollface

I thought all macs remained infinitely shiney. You could try Ubuntu, it's free and better than OSX. Old hardware seeming slower with newer OS's sounds just like some other major OS. Bare in mind though that over the years hardware does deteriorate (slow>fail) and there is nothing even a fruity programmer can overcome.

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FAIL

Re: @snotrot

I don't see it being a pig. I actually prefer Metro to iOS. The Nokia Lumia > iPhone. Probably will prefer Metro to OSX as I still have nightmares from using an iMac G3 /w 1 button mouse. yucky!

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Anonymous Coward

One Partition

I've been using ML for a while, have contributed MANY 'early hiccups' to the mothership, who have really worked to solve all my problems and now I have enjoyed the GM for a week. It is a lot better than Lion!

I'd just suggest for those installing on new or old hardware that you stick to a single HDD partition in ML.

I tried at one early stage a 7 partition HDD with data/other OS/SL/encrypted/Bootcamp etc partitions..... this ground to a very sticky halt shortly after using, with a long repair needed. ML prefers a nice single disc, then it can create the absolutely essential "Emergency Repair Partition." Only then start soft-Bootcamping and I'd leave the other experimental OS's or partitions to flashdrives or USB rotational archives.

Oh and only signed GoodWare/MalWare can run/install on ML, that's neat.

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Joke

Re: One Partition

If it is true, then Apple had better watch out: Microsoft will be suing them for violating Microsoft's patents on "method and apparatus for making an operating system totally incompatible with a computer having a multiplicity of operating systems installed already" and "method and apparatus for destroying other operating systems on a computer during installation" for which Microsoft can site prior art going all the way back to Win95.

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Re: One Partition

If it is, it nixes any notion of me going near it. My MBP runs Win7 most of the time (I've got no real objection to OS X, but I've got a bunch of Win-only software) and if an OS upgrade means I have to cock about with repartitioning it can smeg off.

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Gold badge

Re: One Partition

for which Microsoft can site prior art going all the way back to Win95

MS-DOS, actually :). Did you know it took until Windows Vista before EDLIN was removed? :)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Single Partition

My experience was that it's good to start an ML install on a single (user visible) partition, then later perform the desired expansion tricks. You should avoid the installation quirk where ML says "Due to this disc structure we are unable to install the Recovery Partition" (In my case it was because WINDOWS Bootcamp needs to be within the first 3 partitions or MS won't let it boot, allegedly) I have twice needed the Recovery Partition on newish Apples whilst trying exciting things...Without the Recovery Partition you are looking at a few dozen million wasted milliseconds of your life

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @David Hagood

The singular of data is not anecdote, but: I had a Win7 machine, dual booting into Linux, so grub was installed on the linux /boot partition, which was the active partition so the *bog standard* MBR bootloader could find it.

Win7 needed a service pack, which ABSOLUTELY INSISTED upon the Win7 partition being the active partition before it would install (nevermind that Win7 know which partition it was on, naturally). So, I set the active partition back to the Windows partition, figuring I could later just flip the active partition back to /boot and all would be well.

Win7 proceeded to jump up and down upon both the MBR and its own partition with hob-nailed boots, such that even attempting to switch back to /boot as the active partition failed. I had to boot from a live CD, re-install the standard MBR, and reactivate /boot as the active partition.

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Re: One Partition

"Wait, so a modern OS is seriously demanding on install that it fills the entire hard drive, which you can only then repartition? Meaning if I've got a Mac set up to double- or triple-boot, I have to clone my entire other partitions and then put them back on?"

Nope. That's not actually the case; it's a little bit more complicated than that.

If you don't use BootCamp, it doesn't matter. Partition to your heart's content. (I always banish a brand-new operating system to its own partition, so that I can fall back if I run into anything...unfortunate.)

It only becomes an issue if you do have BootCamp, and then only if you have BootCamp together with other Mac partitions and BootCamp isn't the first non-Mac partition.

The problem is that Mountain Lion, like Lion, wants to create a hidden recovery partition, and also wants to keep BootCamp's partition within the first three physical partitions on the partition map. So if you install Mountain Lion on the first Mac partition and your Boot Camp partition is your second partition, all is golden. If, however, you have any other partitions between your first partition and Boot Camp, well...

I'm not entirely sure why Boot Camp has to be in the first three physical partitions. I'm sure that somewhere in the bowels of the partition tables or EFI or something something, it makes perfect sense because of reasons.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @David Hagood

Did you install win7 as UEFI? When I first load win7 it was the standard load. It was not ti I read on the next that in order to take advantage of UEFI I had to use the boot options at start up(no in the bios). There I saw two instance of my DVD RW. One said ASUS the other said ASUS UEFI. It's when you select that that it uses UFEI and plays much nicer. Just make sure your Linux boot loaders are UEFI too. Oh bye the way on my MB you only see the UEFI option when you have a OS DVD that supports UEFI. and it's no were in the documentation.

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Re: One Partition

I've not long installed ML on my 2008. pre-unibody MBP and it runs like a champ.

I had forgotten about the Windows partition until I read your post.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @David Hagood

No UEFI - standard boot.

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Re: One Partition

You do need the hidden recovery partition to upgrade the OS, as the app copies the payload to this and boots from it into the installer. If you deleted this partition while mucking about, you will have to create a new one before you can upgrade.

I think that if you create a bootable USB stick installer, the above doesn't apply.

http://blog.gete.net/lion-diskmaker-us/

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Re: @David Hagood

Macs have proven far more difficult to multi-partition than any Windows machine, in my experience. Windows machines these days are a doddle to me compared to something running OSX. First you have to resize the partitions using an editor that takes your inputs as mere suggestions. Then you have to deal with their non-standard bootloader (constantly), plus the hybrid partition table that becomes irritatingly necessary despite the other two operating systems both supporting EFI, and then because of the hybrid table, you have to have your partitions in the right order or Windows is screwed. Get all that set up and make sure you remember to sync the partition tables, otherwise OSX will merrily destroy your other partitions without prompting you. Gah!

Getting 3 operating systems on this 2011 MacBook Pro was....not fun. Not looking forward to a ML upgrade. Wouldn't be so bad, except my old 2007 MacBook was much easier!

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Unhappy

OCD much

Can't we leave the prettification of apps to iOS and just decide what the standard desktop look is for software on Mac OS and leave it like that?

E.g. This window's yellow with squiggly writing (notepad), this window's brown with big bold sans-serif (reminders), this menu's black (notifications), this is an iLife application which looks different to an iWork application, this has a brushed metal background which means you can accidentally click and drag it off somewhere else, this is the QuickTime player which is black, and these are iBooks and iTunes which defy categorisation...

There was a reason why X11 desktops were generally considered a disaster before Gnome and KDE came along. Unfortunately they went mental as well.

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Re: OCD much

"Can't we leave the prettification of apps to iOS and just decide what the standard desktop look is for software on Mac OS and leave it like that?"

No they can't. Because the desktop and mobile versions of Apple's operating systems have been on a collision course for some time. I would speculate that you're[*] only a few years away from an identical interface on both.

[*] That's they generic "you". I have no idea what you personally actually use.

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