OS X Mountain Lion: Will Apple Crash the Windows 8 Party?
Apple has integrated OS X and iOS even more with Mountain Lion, which it will launch a month or so before Microsoft is set to release Windows 8. Nice timing Cupertino.
Eye on Microsoft
By Shane O'Neill, CIO
Apple yesterday announced the Developer Preview of Mountain Lion, the next version of Mac OS X — excuse me, OS X (the Mac has been dropped). Mountain Lion picks up where Lion left off, further blending Apple’s desktop OS with its mobile brethren, iOS.
If Lion and iOS became good friends, then Mountain Lion and iOS are seriously dating. Features pulled over from iOS to Mountain Lion include Twitter integration, Messages, Notes, Reminders and Notification Center, and Game Center. Apple also renamed iCal and Address Book in Mountain Lion to match their counterparts in iOS. Mountain Lion, however, will not go so far as to include the multi-touch capabilities of iOS.
Having seamless, or at least similar, operating systems along with a personal cloud storage service like iCloud will help alleviate hardware worries and turn Apple devices into “a bunch of connected screens,” to quote Gartner analyst Michael Gartenberg in a Computerworld story.
Apple users can accomplish the same tasks and access the same data using the same tools no matter what Apple device they are using.
Any other company you know of trying this? Yes sir, Microsoft is scurrying in the same direction with Windows 8. And as usual, Apple has cruised by in a Porsche to make Microsoft look like a beat-up Winnebago on the information super-highway.
Apple will launch OS X Mountain Lion late this summer, about a month or so before Microsoft is scheduled to release Windows 8. Although this won’t steal Microsoft’s Windows 8 thunder completely (Windows 8 is much more major release than Mountain Lion), it will be a reminder that Apple has established harmony across devices, a key selling point Microsoft is trying to make with Windows 8.
Although the Windows 8 strategy is complex, with the OS being split between a PC version (Windows 8) and a tablet version (called Windows on ARM, or WOA), ultimately Windows 8 has the potential to truly unify the Windows experience across devices like never before. But even if the Windows 8 OS offers complete unity across devices, there is still the problem of the devices themselves. Will users take to a Windows tablet at all and will Windows Phones ever make headway with consumers? Any hope Microsoft has of creating a unified experience in the post-PC world hinges on tablets and smartphones.
Apple, on the other hand, is sitting in a sweet spot. With its already wildly popular iPads and iPhones, Apple can use these devices to reel more users into the Apple ecosystem. iOS lovers may be more willing to shell out for a Macbook now that it runs a more iOS-friendly operating system.
Apple, in short, has a unified experience in place, one that will be enhanced with Mountain Lion. Microsoft has to manufacture this experience basically from scratch. Apple’s calculated release date is more shrewd than rude, but it could foreshadow the rude awakening that awaits Microsoft if Windows 8 doesn’t deliver.