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It’s Mountain Lion.

If you’re not an Apple computer user and are perplexed, Apple has announced an update to their operating system.

Looking down through the highlighted features you’d be forgiven for a first thinking few of the additions would be considered operating system features but are instead a list of bundled applications. (Gatekeeper excepted, perhaps.) ArsTechnica has a run-down on what’s on offer.

Mountain-Lion-features

There’s is a marketing presentation element going on here to my mind. There will be services (and APIs) behind the scenes supporting these applications. The update is presented purely in terms of a consumers use of the OS. Also it‘s a preview; no doubt more details will be forthcoming.

That they’ve presented it this way is not very surprising, really, but what is there for those who want to interact more closely with the operating system?

What, if any, improvements have been made to the core OS. They don’t mention any. (Certainly there is no mention of ZFS, a modern file system many would like to see on Mac OS.)

In the comments Wired it’s noticeable that many are saying they’re sticking with Snow Leopard, the version of the operating system before Lion that is more Mac OS X oriented and less iPad or consumer device oriented.

Remember the Wired crowd will be dominated by more serious computer geeks, not your typical home user or consumer.

I’d have to confess I’m still using Snow Leopard myself – thus far.

Don’t get me wrong.

The consumer features look excellent and I have little doubt I’d enjoy using them. (Even if I have to admit all that connecting social media to the daily flow might be horribly distracting. Personally while I’m working I’d want an interface without all that.)

For me a main feature of Mac OS is access to both Unix and desktop computing in the one box. (Also, I really do want to have at least one machine running Rosetta, which allows much older software to run.)

I’d like to think that the Unix computing aspect of Mac OS X hasn’t actually gone away,* as such, but certainly their marketing isn’t reassuring older hands this. No ’Still with all that Unix goodness under the hood’ line somewhere near the very end of the blurb showing that they are (or might be) still committed to supporting these people. Some of those boring old ‘list’ and ‘plain text’ approaches to things are actually useful to some of us.

I’m also bothered by the truly terrible performance of the system when it’s short on free RAM (as judged by Activity Monitor). Apart from the obvious reason–no-one likes a system that periodically decides to tie itself into knots–a little paranoid corner of my mind worries that this performance hit is the upshot of designing for the consumer and ‘just not worrying’ as much about the core OS or heavier users.**

Some are concerned that the Mac OS has evolved into a ‘light’ interface, dropping ‘advanced’ features. It’s why Finder replacements like Path Finder have a place in the market. In the case of similar tools, that may be fine in some ways. Apple does the core consumer stuff and third-parties pick up the slack for the more advanced interface issues.

By not offering interface-level support to interact with these, aside from the command line and other programmer’s approaches, is Apple is increasingly opening a gulf between the OS and more ‘advanced’ or traditional users?

Obviously I’m intending to provoke ;-) Share your thoughts in the comments.****

Footnotes

* Obviously I haven’t used Lion, but with the lack of information forthcoming, there isn’t much incentive to either.

** If I had a guess part of the issue is an over-reliance on SQLite coupled with poor VM performance under stress.

*** And customising; Apple seems opposed to this – you can argue both ways about customising systems.

**** My views tend to be fairly relaxed about these things in practice and I’m fairly sure most of it’s all still there ;-) Just not mentioned in the marketing spiels. But it still gets you to thinking and makes for conversation.


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