Mountain Lion Day

If you’re going to upgrade your Mac to OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, then you’re going to want to take a look at this article that will help you get ready for the upgrade…

Millions of Mac users all over the globe have been patiently waiting for the OS to be released so they can download it and upgrade their supported Mac to the new OS.  That last link is especially important for new upgraders, as it contains all of Mountain Lion’s Technical Specification Requirements, like supported models, RAM, disk space, etc.

A couple-three points on general requirements:

  1. If you aren’t running at least OS X 10.6.8 (the latest version of Snow Leopard) or later on your supported Mac, you’ll need to upgrade to it before upgrading to Mountain Lion. Users of Lion on supported Macs don’t need to worry about this point.
  2. Apple says you need a minimum of 2GB of RAM to run Mountain Lion. 4GB is better, 8GB or more is the sweet spot.
  3. Apple says you’ll need at least 8GB of available disk space.  Mountain Lion is a 4.5GB download. It needs another 3.5GB of temp space to do the upgrade, and the upgrade file eats itself after it executes. Make sure you make a copy of it before it runs so you don’t have to download it again if needed.

Before you get started on your upgrade, you need to do a couple of important tasks. If you don’t do all of these, the world isn’t going to end. You’re still going to be able to upgrade; but if you don’t, and you run into trouble, you’re gonna wish you had.  So, while they may make the task a bit longer, they’re probably the right thing to do.

  1. Bandwidth– It’s going to take a while to download the installer.  4.5GB takes a good while to pull down even on a good day, but ba-zillions of peoples are going to want to download Mountain Lion all at the same time. The best time to download is likely overnight.  So, you may want to wait…If you live in a bandwidth challenged area (like some rural area or back-40), you might want to make a trip to an Apple Store or a Starbucks or other free-Wi-Fi zone.  Apple isn’t going to deliver a Mountain Lion installer on a USB stick, like it eventually did with Lion.
  2. Backups – If you use Time Machine, make sure you have a good backup if you plan to restore applications, music or other content on clean install systems.
  3. Backups – Make a system backup of your boot drive (if you have a Mac with more than one hard drive). Super Duper is my new favorite, and WILL save your bacon if you need to start the upgrade process over again.

Once you have everything ready to go and you start the upgrade, your biggest obstacle is going to be patience.  The upgrade is going to take a while, likely 90 minutes or so from start to complete finish; and it will include three or more reboots, depending on your system.  Give yourself something else to do and let the upgrade run its course.  Rushing things is only going to frustrate you and jeopardize the integrity of your Mac later.

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Discretion, Being the Better Part of Valor…

Here’s some of the BEST advice when it comes to making system upgrades; and something that everyone should consider before taking the upgrade plunge

Apple released Mountain Lion OS X 10.8 yesterday.  Like many, I pulled down the OS update yesterday, but I haven’t pulled the trigger just yet. Some have scratched their heads when I relay that bit of news, others look me in the eye and see wisdom.  Let’s take a quick look at that and digest it a bit.

Mountain Lion is NOT the same kind of upgrade to 10.7 Lion that Snow Leopard was to Apple’s 10.5 Leopard.  OS X 10.8 is a HUGE upgrade, and there are a few considerations that you need to take into account before you perform the upgrade, because, “once you buy the prize, it’s yours to keep.”  In other words, with OS X 10.7 Lion now removed from the App store and Apple Store shelves, if you make a mistake, recovery will likely be a long, painful and difficult road at best.

Discretion being the better part of valor, I’d wait a bit before upgrading to Mountain Lion.  I’ve run the Developer Previews on my Mac and you need to know that there are a number of apps out there that do NOT play and work well under it just yet.

If you’ve got a critical legacy app that you’re concerned about, you need to check Roaring Apps for a Mountain Lion compatibility rating.  The site rates the compatibility of a number of different apps and app versions and let s you know which ones will run, and how well they will run, on both Lion and Mountain Lion.

The biggest point here is that 3rd party app developers have only had the final Gold Master code for just over two weeks.  This means that while they may have been developing, tweaking and fixing things under Mountain Lion Developer Preview releases, they’ve had less than 21 days to test, tweak, fix and resubmit bug app updates to Apple for all of their Mountain Lion compatible apps.


I’ve been a software quality and testing professional for more than 20 years. On an operating system update as large as Mountain Lion, this clearly isn’t enough time to work out all the kinks.

So, here’s my recommendation to most everyone wondering if they should take the plunge now, or if they should wait – I’d wait.

If you’re a regular consumer, I’d wait about a week or two, giving app developers additional time to submit updates to their apps not only to the Mac App Store, but their own web stores and other download sites, like Soft32.

If you’re a small business user, I’d give it a couple of months at least. Not only do you want 3rd party app updates to come through, you want Apple to have time to issue an update to the OS and make sure that there aren’t any other hidden pot holes or bumps in the road.

If you simply MUST be an early adopter and install Mountain Lion on a machine you’re going to be using pretty much every day, then you need to make certain that you provide feedback to both Apple as well as the vendors of the apps you are using so they know about the problems and challenges you’re bumping into.  It’s likely the only way the problems are going to get resolved quickly…

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Mountain Lion Release Predicted

The release date for Apple’s new flagship, desktop operating system has been set…well sort of.

If Apple sticks to its previous behavior, I know exactly when OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion will be released – 25, July 2012.

Apple’s Q3 2012 earnings call is set for 24-Jul-12, and the company is doing rather well. WWDC unveiled a new MacBook Pro with Retina Display and a refresh of the remaining notebook line.  It also introduced a new version of their mobile operating system – iOS 6, set to be released with their latest iPhone, currently anticipated to be released some time in, it’s expected, mid October 2012.

Last year, however, Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s CFO, was able to announce that OS X 10.7 Lion, would be available for purchase and download in Apples Mac App Store.  If Apple holds true to previous behavior, then I expect Mountain Lion to be released the following day, 25-Jul-12 for the advertised $19.99 USD.

If this is the case, I hope Apple’s got the bandwidth and server space set aside to handle the traffic. If I remember right, I had to wait about a week or so before I was able to get my copy of Lion due to server collisions and contention. Downloading the OS is great, but I’m not looking forward to having to wait and wait to get the OS upgrade, and I’m certain I’m not alone. I’m hoping that new data centers and other Apple infrastructure will help make the Mountain Lion release process smooth and easy for all.

Please look for a final review of Apple’s Mountain Lion here on Soft32 in the beginning of August 2012.

Apple stock (AAPL) was trending up over 18 points for the week at the time of this writing, at 604.72, up 18.41.

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OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion Developer Preview 4

There’s a lot of iOS based improvement going into Apple’s newest Operating System, OS X 10.8, code named, Mountain Lion. Let’s take a look at how it and iOS are converging.

Soft32 covered the recent release of Apple’s Mountain Lion Developer Preview 3 earlier this month (Review). Shortly after the review was completed, Apple released Developer Preview 4. What you’ll see here is the analysis that we’ve been able to do on the changes between the two prerelease states of the latest Mac operating system.

Since the release of Mountain Lion Developer Preview 4, Apple has also released an update to it, via its new update mechanism in the Mac App Store. Here, we’re going to look at the changes between Dev Preview 3 and Dev Preview 4, as well as the changes that Apple released in Dev Preview 4 Update.

Hardware and Software Requirements
Mountain Lion won’t run on every Mac. You’re going to need to have one of the following supported models in order to run Mountain Lion.

  • iMac (Mid 2007 or newer)
  • MacBook (Late 2008 Aluminum, or Early 2009 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro (Mid/Late 2007 or newer)
  • Xserve (Early 2009)
  • MacBook Air (Late 2008 or newer)
  • Mac mini (Early 2009 or newer)
  • Mac Pro (Early 2008 or newer)

If you’re upgrading a supported Mac, you’re also going to need to be running a minimum of Snow Leopard 10.6.8. In some cases, you may need to purchase a Snow Leopard upgrade for $29.99, if you don’t already have it, before you upgrade to Mountain Lion at $19.99. Users running Leopard and have a MobileMe account need to upgrade to Snow Leopard in order to move to iCloud. Those users can get a Snow Leopard DVD for free, saving you the original $30 bucks.

Mac App Store
Apple is doing away with Software Update and relying on the Mac App Store to present appropriate OS updates to end users in Mountain Lion. Apple recently tested this new update process by offering a number of Mountain Lion Developer Preview 4 updates through the Mac App Store. Like in Software Update, you can choose which components to install and which ones to ignore. Its not an all or nothing deal. The components also come with release notes that allow you to click on them to display all of the notes for that specific update.

Reminders
iOS 6 is due to be released in the Fall with iPhone 5, or whatever they end up calling the new Apple smartphone. One of the big updates to Reminders in iOS 6 is Geofencing, or the ability to trigger system events after you cross a geographical location.

In Mountain Lion, Reminders allows you to create a task or to-do list, to set the date and time you want the reminders to go off. You get the the ability to push them to all of your iDevices. Having Reminders on your Mac also means you get the ability to search through and view them on your calendar.

The one feature that Reminders doesn’t do on your Mac is provide full geofencing support. Laptops don’t have built in GPS receivers, so reminders on the desktop aren’t triggered via a geofence line.

iCloud Integration
Mountain Lion is more complete in Developer Preview 4. The big change comes at the start of the OS, where you’re asked to provide your AppleID and password for the iCloud Preference pane so it can log you in and/or create your iCloud account.

Conclusion
Mountain Lion is not a revolution set of changes for desktop Mac users. Like its iOS mobile operating system, Apple is content to introduce carefully engineered and designed evolutionary change. This is a repeat of the same behavior Apple introduced with its Leopard to Snow Leopard based upgrade path. They didn’t introduce any further radical changes until they changed “cat families” with the introduction of Lion in July of 2011. However, this wasn’t too radical of a change, either.

While this desktop evolution doesn’t provide for huge innovative strides, it does insure that the current user base is smoothly able to nurture and navigate their usage habits through the changes Apple has made. As such, Apple maintains their, “it just works,” user perception. As they are making a push for the enterprise, this is a huge gain.

In contrast, Microsoft’s upgrade to Windows Vista from Windows XP in 2007 created a huge amount of panic in the enterprise, as users couldn’t understand the logic or reasoning behind the UI changes. With Mountain Lion, those users migrating from Lion won’t have too much trouble making the switch.

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OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion Developer Preview 3

There’s a lot of iOS based improvement going into Apple’s newest Operating System, OS X 10.8, code named, Mountain Lion. Let’s take a look at how it and iOS are converging.

There’s been a lot going on in Cupertino since February of this year. Apple has been hard at work pulling together the latest version of its new desktop operating system, OS X 10.8, code named Mountain Lion. Apple is, at least in some sense, converging their two most successful platforms – iOS, which it uses to power all of its mobile devices; and OS X, which powers all of its desktops and laptops. With the iPad parked squarely between the two platforms (but powered by iOS), Apple is trying to build synergy between the two platforms so that users can easily use both without a experiencing any jarring transitions.

The effort is commendable. There are a great many Apple customers who own not only an iPod Touch or iPhone, but an iPad as well as a desktop/laptop Mac. Bringing the two together was something that Steve wanted to do. Let’s take a look at where the two converge and the value they provide, if any.

Messages Beta
Byte covered Messages Beta, and the features it brings to the desktop, in an extensive deep dive. Messages Beta is available for download on Mac’s running Lion, and will be usable until the new OS is officially available for purchase in the App Store. At that point, Messages will stop functioning in Lion, and those users who wish to keep using it will need to upgrade to Mountain Lion.

Notifications
Applications like Growl have been providing system notifications in OS X for quite some time. Apple has finally brought the same kind of functionality as you see in Growl, to Mountain Lion by integrating system wide notification into the operating system. The actual implementation takes its queues directly from iOS. They share a similar tray background, look and feel.

When system or app events occur on your Mac, those notifications will appear in the upper right corner of your screen, in a self-hiding event tray that slides out on the right side, as opposed to coming down from the center of the screen as it does on your iPad or iPhone. System event notifications disappear after a few moments have passed. Other notification types need to be dismissed by the user.

How, if at all, this will work or conflict with notification apps like Growl is yet to be known or understood. Growl is a long standing, value added application that many have used for YEARS simply because OS X didn’t support this type of functionality. It’s quite possible that Growl may be out of a job…

Reminders
Combining Reminders with Siri on the iPhone 4S is pretty awesome. All you have to do to set one on your iPhone is to ask Siri to, “remind [you] to do ‘X’ [at] ‘Y’, ” with X being the thing you want the reminder to remind you to do, and Y being when you want the reminder to go off. In Mountain Lion, Apple brings the Reminders app to the desktop, but without Siri. You get everything you’ve got on the iPhone (again, minus Siri) as well as a couple other cool additions.

On the desktop, Reminders allows you to create a task or to-do list, set the date and time you want the reminders to go off and the ability to push them to all of your iDevices. Having this on your Mac also means you get the ability to search through your reminders and view them on your calendar.

The one feature that Reminders doesn’t do on your Mac is “remind [you] to do ‘X’ when you get to ‘Z’,” with X again being the thing you want to do, and Z being the location where you want to do it. For example, again on your iPhone, “Siri, remind me to call home when I leave the office.” Location services aren’t built into Mountain Lion, so reminders on the desktop aren’t location aware.

iCloud Integration
Mountain Lion is the first edition of OS X that includes built in iCloud integration from its initial release. Yes, Lion has it; but it’s an update introduced add-on. With Mountain Lion, Apple gives you access to cloud-based sync services for Notes, Reminders and Messages/iMessage between your Mac and your iDevice.

Documents and changes to those documents stored there will also sync back and forth between your Mac and iDevice. An additional feature coming for documents in the cloud is Document Library. Aside from giving you access to the latest revision of any document created with an iCloud supported app, Document Library also gives you the ability to create folders by dragging one document on top of another, as you do with shortcuts on an iDevice home page, today. Document Library will also support file sharing, making it easy for you to share stuff with those you know via Mail, Messages and AirDrop.

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Is Convergence the Way to Go?

Both Apple and Microsoft are bringing their desktop and mobile computing experiences closer together. Is this a good idea, or a recipe for disaster?

Current rumor has Apple releasing Mountain Lion next month.  Windows is due to hit the streets outside of Redmond, likely in October 2012.  While considered polar opposites, these two new versions of OS X and Windows have one key ingredient in common – they are both trying to bring their desktop and mobile computing experiences closer together.

Microsoft Windows 8
You can see Soft32’s Windows 8 deep dive, here.  In Windows 8, Microsoft is designing an operating system that can be used on either a desktop or laptop as well as a tablet.  Windows 8’s new user interface, Metro, is heavily touch based. It has the user physically interacting with the hardware and the computing objects on it via touch.  If the hardware being used doesn’t have a touch layer, then the user can use both keyboard and mouse to simulate touch.

As I pointed out in my review (URL), this doesn’t always lend itself to the best computing experience. Using the mouse to simulate a touch and swipe to scroll through a screen isn’t as intuitive as it sounds, and is really rather clumsy. I think I’ve established, with Windows 8, that having one OS for either hardware types or categories doesn’t create a good user experience. However, in my opinion, this is clearly in response to only Google’s Android (to an extent), but to Apple’s Lion and Mountain Lion releases of OS X.  Microsoft sees the movement towards a unified computing experience and has taken a unified approach in developing a single operating system to cover all computing hardware types.

Last time, we looked at Microsoft and Windows 8. Let’s take a quick look at how Apple has decided to converge iOS and OS X.  Mountain Lion continues Apple’s desire to blur the lines between the two…

Apple OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion
Apple’s approach is much different.  Instead of putting OS X on your iPhone or iPad or iOS on your Mac, Apple is bringing specific iOS features to the desktop.  These mobile device features are adapted to the desktop or laptop for, what Apple feels is a better experience on the non (or not as) mobile hardware.

The difference here is approach and design.  Apple is taking specific features from iOS – Messages, Notifications, Reminders, iCloud Integration, etc., those that make sense to have on the desktop and are finding a way to implement those. The features are similar, but not identical, given the differences in the hardware.  Their addition is subtle, even elegant in some cases, as in the implementation of Notifications.  The point is though, that while both platforms have similar features, while they may share a similar look and/or feel, they are implemented and presented differently, taking advantage of the benefits of each platform.

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