Out of the Wild

By Craig Saunders, 11 September 2012

Apple released its new operating system, Mountain Lion, a couple of weeks ago. As it is always a good idea to test new software before deploying it to all computers in a business, we tested it on a few computers, just to make sure not to run into serious problems.

However, Mountain Lion (OS X 10.8) held up to the excitement one could find in the Apple fan community prior to release: it is more stable, quicker, uses less resources and altogether makes a far better impression than its predecessor Lion (OS X 10.7).

Although Apple mainly indicated that this upgrade is a minor one - like before with the step from Leopard to Snow Leopard - Apple addressed not only performance issues, but also made a significant amount of changes to the system. I will give you a quick tour through some of the more noticeable changes now.

What is new for users who had Lion installed already:

  1. You will find a notification column on the right now, which might look familiar if you are using iOS 5 on your iPhone or iPad. In this column you can find info about new emails, incoming chats, calendar events and everything else your computer wants to tell you.
  2. Safari got an overhaul and is apparently much nicer and smoother to use now. There is only one address field, which also serves as google search bar - Chrome users might recognise this. Also there is a new 'Share' button, which lets you share pages via mail, messenger / ichat, Twitter, Facebook?
  3. Apple made some minor improvements to the launchpad, mouse-gestures and some other stuff like notes and reminders.
  4. iChat is now Messenger! If you are used to iChat thhe new Messenger takes a bit of getting used to - but it is worth it! The history function that keeps past conversations accessible can be very helpful, although it is harder to check who is online. However, you can activate the 'old' buddy list through the menu and enjoy the new functions without loss.
  5. Software update is now completely integrated in App Store. This can be a little bit of an issue when multiple users install software with different Apple-IDs, but important system updates will be unaffected and work fine.

Coming from (Snow) Leopard, there is MUCH more:

  1. Additional to all the stuff above, you will notice that your mouse scrolling now works the other way round. It needs a bit getting used to it, but once you adjusted it is actually quite nice.
  2. Mail got an overhaul with grouping emails in a nice way and some smaller changes here and there. Altogether a plus in my opinion!
  3. The Application starter from the task bar is now called Launchpad and looks more like iOS. I don't like it that much, but it might be a question of taste?
  4. Exposé (the multiple desktop system) is now called MissionControl and is combined with the 'show all programs' (function key F3) button. This is quite an improvement, and if you have a magic mouse or a touchpad, you can easily swipe between screens with two fingers.

There are quite a few more changes, I guess, but I can't remember all of them. So just do the upgrade and enjoy.

Just a little warning at the end: the upgrade takes about an hour (not including the time to download the 4GB image from the App Store) and Spotlight will reindex your computer in the first hour or so after login, which makes your computer react a bit slower than normal. However, once this is completed it should be as fast as ever - at last!

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