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Thoughts on OS X Mountain Lion

So, a preview to OS X Mountain Lion is out. Most people will not find out before evening because Apple decided to do a quiet launch on their website about it. But anyways, now that we know about it, what’s so great?

Let’s see. Apple decided to take the best features of the iOS ecosystem and push them towards OS X. Notice also, that the name is no longer Mac OS X, but simply OS X.

We will have, Game Center, Notifications Center, more iCloud integration, a ‘Messages’ app corresponding to the iMessages in iOS (also, a replacement for iChat) and many apps like Notes and Reminders that will sync with your iDevices to keep you seamlessly synced where ever you go. All of this will be possible because of iCloud.

Users will also have better Twitter integration and sharing options for websites like Vimeo and Flickr. That cute tweet poster in iOS 5 is also there. Apple is trying to woo people to Safari with the Sharing options, though how useful it turns out to be is yet to be seen. The notification center looks neat, although long time users of Growl will, well, growl.

Interesting new features are GateKeeper and Airplay mirroring. GateKeeper is like the User Account Control (UAC) of Windows, for the Mac. It’s going to be intrusive, troublesome and restrictive. What it does is, allows a person to make settings to block apps that are not from the Mac App Store or from the App Store but not from famous developers to not be installed on your system at all. If the default setting in the Mountain Lion is going to be ‘Mac App Store only’, it’ll not only cause problems to people who are new to the Mac but also shows Apple’s huge push towards the App Store instead of independent developers. The little guys with direct downloads from their websites will bear the brunt.

Airplay mirroring, on the other hand, is an awesome feature that allows you to wirelessly display your Mac’s screen on your appleTV connected TV.

Finally, the Game Center is going to be useful for playing games with your friends who own other Apple devices like iOS or another Mac. Like Apple says on their website, it’s now going to be the Mac vs the iPad vs the iPhone vs the iPod Touch. Fun indeed, if only we could buy a single app for all devices instead of having to pay for the Mac games separately.

On a more developer related note, Apple has been moving farther away from open source apps every upgrade. That means more proprietary software in Mac and less room for hacking. It remains to be seen how far they’ve gone this time and how the developers and lovers of Unix will be affected.

Lastly, those who want to, can download the Messages app for OS X right now from their website –¬†http://www.apple.com/macosx/mountain-lion/messages-beta/

This offer is similar to when Apple released FaceTime for free initally and then started charging for it once it became popular. So grab your copy now!