Using several media outlets, Apple has just announced major details about Mac OS X 10.8, the next version of the company's desktop operatng system. The new release, codenamed "Mountain Lion," will be available to people with Mac developer accounts soon in the form of a preview, and a release to the public is expected late this summer. This short development cycle, unheard of since the early days of Mac OS X over a decade ago, reflects a desire at Apple to mirror the roughly yearly release cycle of iOS.

Despite the name, which suggests a version relatively light in feature changes over the previous version (like the transition from Leopard to Snow Leopard), Mountain Lion is intended to be a major new feature release that continues the work of bringing iOS features to the Mac: many of its major features are iOS transplants, including the Notification Center (which will bring unified notifications to OS X, replacing third-party apps like Growl), Game Center, iMessage support (in the form of an app called Messages, which replaces iChat - there's a free beta available for Lion users now), AirPlay Mirroring, a Notes app, Reminders, Twitter integration, tighter iCloud integration, and others. Frankly, this list of iOS imports actually seems to make more sense for the Mac as a platform than did some of the features (like Launchpad) that were brought over in Lion.

Mountain Lion will also include some new features all its own: Gatekeeper, which is aimed straight at system administrators, will allow admins to lock down the type of apps allowed to run on Macs. You can choose to allow apps only from the Mac App Store, apps from the Mac App store as well as those from developers you approve, or apps from anywhere (which is the default behavior in OS X currently). This can be seen as another step toward disallowing non-Mac App Store programs from running in OS X, but taken at face value it appears to be a solid compromise between the security of iOS-like behavior and the flexibility to install code from anywhere that users have always been accustomed to in OS X.

We don't have any information about system requirements yet, so we don't know whether Mountain Lion will run on any Lion-compatible Mac (which seems technically possible) or whether it will drop support for some older machines (which has historically happened with new OS X releases - see this page of our Lion review for in-depth information on what got dropped from the support list and why). The Apple developer site is currently down, but as soon as it comes back up those with developer accounts should be able to download and play with the next version of OS X. We'll continue to cover the new OS as details are made public.

Update: As we suggested might happen in our Lion review, Mountain Lion's developer preview appears to do away with support for any Mac that cannot boot into OS X's 64-bit kernel. I'll link you to that page of our Lion review again if you'd like deep technical information about what that means, but the short version is that a wide range of Apple's products from 2007 and 2008 are being dropped regardless of whether they include a Core 2 Duo processor. The list of supported Macs includes:

• iMac (mid 2007 or later)
• MacBook (13-inch Aluminum,  2008), (13-inch, Early 2009 or later)
• MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid-2009 or later), (15-inch, 2.4/2.2 GHz), (17-inch, Late 2007 or later)
• MacBook Air (Late 2008 or later)
• Mac Mini (Early 2009 or later)
• Mac Pro (Early 2008 or later)
• Xserve (Early 2009)

The cutoff happens in different places for different products, but here are some rules of thumb: if your Mac uses the ATI Radeon X1600 graphics chip or the Intel GMA 950/X3100 integrated graphics chips, you're out of luck. If you've got a white iMac or one of the very first Mac Pros, you're out of luck. There are a few easy ways to check whether your Mac can run the 64-bit kernel, and Apple outlines all of them in this support document.

It should be noted that this information comes from the developer preview's release notes and may not be indicative of the final support list, but Lion's dropping of Core Duo Macs (and Snow Leopard's dropping of PPC Macs) were known quantities pretty early in the development of those operating systems - support for these older Macs may be added before the final release, but history suggests otherwise.

Source: The Verge

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  • KamikaZeeFu - Thursday, February 16, 2012 - link

    [trollface]You want to use your apple product for more than one year? BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA [/trollface]
  • PlanetFinder - Thursday, February 16, 2012 - link

    Apple certainly has managed the expectations of their customer base. By moving the trailing edge up faster it allows them to make faster changes at the leading edge and get an extra margin for the new stuff. This appeals to their core customer base otherwise they wouldn't be able to sustain it. The idea that they do it that way simply because it makes more money is almost but not quite right. In light of current, past, and future technologies they decide what their customer base would have a positive response to in a price range that they can deliver and they stick to it. They don't view computers as commodities but rather more as evolving tools i.e. a future orientation rather than current or backward looking orientation to products and services. It happens to be a choice that makes them a lot money and obviously it isn't for everyone but then that isn't their focus. They provide what they provide and if the customer base and margin is there to support it then they keep going with limited regard for the percentage of the total market that they get. Depending on what you do with your computers it can be good or bad. If the strategy is to run the computer until it just can't cut it anymore then Apple's product and service philosophy isn't the one you want but Linux is a huge win. Of course there are serious downsides to using a machine that way under Windows or OS X for professional use. I believe that Microsoft makes it a point to use both more processing power and more memory with each new Windows version. They leave the decision about hardware upgrade much more with the user but it leaves Microsoft with a lot less control of the user experience and of their ability to introduce new technology. Sometime back Bill Gates made a strong appeal to establish minimum hardware standards but the appeal was ignored for exactly the reasons that you might think. Apple's strategy is to manage support of older hardware as one more way of ensuring the user experience they want to offer. It is true that it sells new machines and they consider that but it's not quite right to think that this is their only motive.
  • ananduser - Thursday, February 16, 2012 - link

    Those billions are from mobile gadgets and not from macs to be specific.
  • B3an - Thursday, February 16, 2012 - link

    More RAM? Dont think so. Win 8 will happily run on 512MB. It runs better than Win 7 on this amount, and it's alteast as good as XP on old hardware. I've tried it myself on a couple of 7+ year old laptops.

    This new OSX is clearly a response to Win 8, which is going to vastly superior to anything Apple have.
  • KPOM - Friday, February 17, 2012 - link

    Tim Cook told the WSJ that nothing Microsoft is doing is particularly concerning to them right now.

    I think this would have gone out regardless of Windows 8. Steve Jobs himself said at the Lion preview that they foresaw future convergence between iOS and OS X, and Lion was a first step. Lion merged the OS to a full 64-bit kernel, dropped Rosetta, and introduced many UI features. Mountain Lion is more about adding applications. I think the $29 annual update model is one that appeals to Apple, much more so than Microsoft's less frequent model of pricier updates. I still see enterprises running Windows XP, and my own employer is still on Vista. Most consumers update their Microsoft OS when they get a new PC.
  • MySchizoBuddy - Thursday, February 16, 2012 - link

    I'm out. Mine is late 2006
  • cfaalm - Friday, February 17, 2012 - link

    Yeah me too. GMA950. Is there a way to get W8 on my MacBook? Do you need a driver pack like we did with XP?
  • ltcommanderdata - Thursday, February 16, 2012 - link

    What's interesting with Game Center coming to Mac is whether Apple will release a Game Center SDK for Windows so it can be used as the multiplayer solution in PC games too? With the hundreds of millions of Apple IDs in the wild due to the popularity of iTunes and iOS, user familiarity with Apple IDs should ensure quick adoption by gamers. Steam doesn't yet reach into mobile devices and solutions like Origin are tied to one game developer. There is definitely an opening for an ubiquitous player profile that is cross-platform.
  • nicklad - Thursday, February 16, 2012 - link

    TYPO: You've not you're...

    "If you're got a white iMac"

    I would also change card to chip re: ATI's X1600.


    Prima facie, this is all to do with graphics...

    They've dropped support for Intel's GMA 950 and GMA X3100 as there are no 64-bit KEXTs and Intel no longer support or develop drivers for them.

    Drivers/support for ATI's X1600 are no longer maintained by AMD, so that has gone too.

    NVIDIA, however, are maintaining driver support for the 8600M and there is already a 64-bit KEXT that supports them in Lion.
  • ltcommanderdata - Thursday, February 16, 2012 - link

    64-bit kext for the GMA X3100 was actually added in 10.6.2.

    One observation about this cut-off is that all remaining GPUs are OpenGL 3.2 Core profile capable. OS X has long used GPU acceleration extensively for it's UI. It's quite possible that the UI has been reimplemented in OpenGL 3.x preventing support for older GPUs.

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