Should You Upgrade To OS X Mountain Lion?

Apple's OS X Mountain Lion is out, and it's just north of 20 bucks. That's cheap enough that the price alone probably isn't a barrier to upgrade -- it's more about your individual needs. Here's a quick guide to see, at a glance, if you should go with Mountain Lion, or maybe sit this one out.

An Average Lion User

Yes. Absolutely. Yes. Yes yes yes. Mountain Lion improves most of the things that you would want improved in Lion; it's faster, smoother, and more convenient. Unlike going from Snow Leopard to Lion, there are no tectonic shifts in philosophy, and no previous features are broken in the service of new ones. There is almost zero downside in upgrading from Lion to Mountain Lion.

A Snow Leopard Holdout

Honestly, probably not. For anyone who thought Lion was too big a shift away from their beloved Snow Leopard -- which still runs smoothly enough to not demand an upgrade -- there probably isn't enough here to change your mind. Spaces are still neutered by Mission Control, as is Exposé. Careful when you update apps though; more and more are losing Snow Leopard compatibility in favour of Mountain Lion.

Someone Who Can't Afford Any Screw Ups

No. Not yet, anyway. Mountain Lion is solid -- much more than Lion when it launched -- but there are still concerns about the Gold Master popping up on message boards, and jumping in Day 1 is nuts if you can't afford to deal with any bugs that might pop up. Right now, the ones that are floating around the most are diminished battery life and a problem connecting to certain types of Wi-Fi networks. But in general, it's almost always better to wait until after the first couple of patches have come through to make your transition as bug-free as possible.

You've Got an Older Mac, But Love These New Features

Well... check the requirements first. For example, AirPlay Mirroring to an Apple TV requires Quick Sync-capable processors. That means Sandy Bridge or newer. Power Nap, which -- as far as we can tell -- is MIA as of now but will arrive eventually, requires a Mac with an Apple-installed SSD.

That doesn't mean that you shouldn't upgrade. Just be aware that being able to install Mountain Lion doesn't mean you're able to make use of all of its features. There are specific hardware requirements beyond the minimums.

You've Only Got 4GB of RAM, And Lion Is Sluggish

Yes! Absolutely. Mountain Lion actually seems to be a bit less memory intensive than Lion. Whether that's by design, or just a function of the general disarray Lion was in for its launch, you shouldn't worry about RAM issues.

A Chat Log Junkie

This probably doesn't apply to most sane people, but if you are obsessed with keeping your chat logs coordinated, you might want to give Mountain Lion a pass. Maybe you need all of your chat logs in one place for work. Maybe you need them to stalk all of your conversations with the pretty girl from work you flirt with occasionally (maybe don't do that). Whatever your logs for, OS X doesn't let you sync all of them seamlessly across two or more computers using services like Dropbox or Skydrive anymore, even though it still uses the same file type as it did in Lion for its logs. Weird.

Earlier versions of Messages in the Developer Previews of Mountain Lion did have this option, so it seems like a conscious decision on Apple's part to disable it. Too bad.

A Windows Lover Who Hates Windows 8

Mountain Lion's worth a look if you're Metro-averse. And I know, I know. Screw Macs and Apple's overpriced, underspeced hipster crap, right? Well, fine. But Apple does have one thing going for it over Microsoft in your heart right now: A demonstrated commitment to PARC. While Microsoft is determined to make Metro the next paradigm in graphical user interfaces, Apple is comfortable with the desktop interface. And to a lot of us, that's worth something.

Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News



    This comment has been deemed inappropriate and has been deleted.

      THE ONLY ignorance is yours! Sorry MAGI I Feed the troll!

        What ignorance would that be, then? I spend 5 or 6 hours a day on OS X and about the same on Windows 8. I'd suggest that puts me in a much better position to comment than you and 90% of others. And I certainly wouldn't use "PARC" as a euphemism for "mouse and keyboard". But feel free to point out where I am wrong, I'm always open to be corrected.

      The point is that Microsoft is trying to push developers towards developing Metro apps. Those Metro app will only every be able to be used in the Metro UI. So if you need to have more than two apps open and viewable at the same time and one of those apps is a Metro app, bad luck.

        This comment has been deemed inappropriate and has been deleted.

          I use OSX at work and Windows 7 and 8 at home. Although you may not like OSX for your situation our company has had an increase in productivity when we changed from Windows 7 to OSX. People just found it easier and more efficient to use. I agree that Windows 7 and 8 are great operating systems but so is OSX. I think you get very defensive about Microsft and you seem to give people the wrong idea about yourself.

      You really must have nothing to do other than troll this site. Every second comment is yours. Get a life weirdo.

        Read your post, then read mine. Who is trolling? Yours contributes nothing at all to the discussion, mine is relevant and advances the discussion.

    Why not AirPlay Mirroring on my late 2008 Mac Book Pro :(
    I would get this upgrade just for that :(

      Use airparrot. It's the same.

        AirParrot is a bit laggy no?

    Or you could get Win 8 and press 2 buttons and be at the desktop again.......

      Precisely... gawd getting sick of the rampant Apple fanboyism. Windows 8 incoming in a couple of months is not a reason to buy a Mac now.

    Nope, Apple says my MacBook isn't supported. December 2007 model.

    I'm going to use this Apple article as a chance to write about Windows 8 hahaha. Happens on all the Win 8 articles hehe.

    But yeah, why don't people just try WIndows 8 before they comment? And I mean for more than 5 minutes, use it for a week, doing email, surfing the net, playing games, etc. and you'll know it's good. It may not become your favourite, but you'll admit it's good.

    I used Windows for 12 years. So frustrating ; even W7. Always problems, always cleaning, defragging and coaxing. My son convinced me to try Apple. I now have a 2011 Mac Book Pro i7 and an ipad 2 and aim to purchase the new iphone later this year. Why? Apple is simply elegant; both the machines and the OS. However, I am cognisant that for many, Windows is the answer. There is no wrong or right. It's what suits you that counts. And by the way, Air Play alone is worth the $20.

      Ahahahaha. They sucked you in good!

      I'm sorry but that is the most ridiculous thing I've read. I can well believe it if your 12 years ended in 2000 or so but since WinXP I've never had to do anything like that. Defrag is scheduled and just happens (although now that I have SSDs I don't need to do it at all). And as for Apple being elegant, you have got to be kidding! What is elegant about an application disappearing off my screen completely, just because I clicked in an empty space to clear a text-entry field? (No, the fact that it disappears with a ridiculous genie animation does not make it elegant.) And what's elegant about having to always click to give a window focus, sometimes even just a dialog that has popped up, before you can actually do anything with it? It means every action requires more steps than in Windows. And let's not even think about using a Mac on a network and the world of pain that involves. If OS X and iOS are your idea of elegant, I'd hate to see what you'd rate a bush-pig.

        i think it is a case of user destroying OS

        i will say OSX is much more user protected in that it is harder for a user to destroy their own computer

    Windows 8 is a mess . Couldn't agree more.

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        Motormouth I often enjoy your commentary but I sincerely hope that the above is far from the most ridiculous thing you have ever read. I was in a similar situation using Windows up to XP & Vista. I can speak for myself, three members of my family and the three-hundred students within in each year group at my high school. Every two years the students had to get their laptops re-imaged because of the crammy-nature of Windows XP. Vista was worse, and still with Windows 7 we needed re-imaging.
        To use the Windows operating system in it's most efficient manner you need to know be equipped with a bit more knowledge than your average user. To students, families and increasing number of creative professionals, Mac OSX is as elegant as they'll need it to be. It doesn't need to be re-imaged, and you don't need to be a 10 hour a day user for this elegance to exist. Someone like you spots the difference and that's fair. But fair isn't ridiculous. Limited perspective is ridiculous. The point was that Windows does generally require more maintenance than Mac OSX. What's your view?

    So, the solution to sucky skeuomorphism in the UI (leather) is to switch it for more sucky skeuomorphism (aluminium)... /golfclap

    Wrong article, damn :(

    Motor Mouth, you sure do get defensive about Windows! You sound just as bad as an Apple fan boy!...oh and bush pigs = majority of Windows based laptops. You would have to admit that macbook's are elegant?

    I downloaded it but havent installed it... because AutoCad 2013 for Mac doesn't support it yet. Bummer.

    Why does apple charge for service packs?

    Thank you Michael. You gave MotorMouth due acceptance for the things that he said that are fair. It is nice to see a measured, intelligent exchange of ideas rather than the rant of bush pigs. More can learn from you. Thanks again.

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