My best description of Mountain Lion (OS X 10.8) is that it seems Apple took Lion (OS X 10.7), stripped out the 32-bit code and inability to boot into 32-bit mode, and added a handful of new features.

Now that’s admittedly an extreme over simplification, and Apple states they have added over 200 new features, but in reality the ones that most people will even notice are:

  • Much better iCloud integration for keeping your Mac and iOS devices in sync
  • Notification Center: All pop-up alerts (email, calendar, software update…) are consolidated to one place, which is easy to access and hide
  • Messages: Ability to chat with any iOS 5 or iOS 6 user for free (like texting), now integrated into this IM app

Some other new features are also worth mentioning include:

  • Gatekeeper: Apple’s new way of making apps you download safe by requiring they are signed by a trusted source (can be turned off)
  • AirPlay: Mirror what’s on your display with an Apple TV
  • Power Nap: Ability to download software updates and backup to Time Machine when the Mac is in sleep mode
  • Dictation: Voice recognition/dictation software
  • New Reminders and Notes apps
  • Facebook, Twitter, and Gabe Center integration

If you get a new Mac with Mountain Lion pre-installed, be prepared that some of your existing software may need to be updated or upgraded to make it compatible.

Both Macs running OS X 10.6.8 and 10.7.x can upgrade directly to Mountain Lion. Those running Lion will likely have very few issues. I personally wouldn’t recommend upgrading a Mac running OS X 10.6.8 unless there is a very specific reason to do so. MANY printers, peripherals, and apps that work find in Snow Leopard do not work the same in Lion or Mountain Lion.

If you are currently relying on the Cisco VPN client, also make sure to read the following article.